October 8, 2012 in Nation/World

Libyan premier ousted

Move shows splits in new government
Shashank Bengali Los Angeles Times
City-tribe rivalry

Abushagur, a former engineering professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, was elected last month and considered a middle-of-the-road candidate who could unite Islamists and secular Libyans. But the opposition to his Cabinet picks reflected the deep animosities among cities and tribes that linger from former ruler Moammar Gadhafi’s four decades of divide-and-rule tactics.

BENGHAZI, Libya – Lawmakers on Sunday removed Libyan Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur from his post after rejecting his choice of Cabinet ministers in the latest setback to Libya’s first elected government since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

The parliament decisively voted down Abushagur’s proposal for a 10-member emergency Cabinet to run the country for six months, three days after protesters stormed the national assembly to oppose his choice for a full Cabinet because they said their cities were underrepresented.

Lawmakers will have to select a new prime minister, a process that could take several weeks while the country continues to suffer from lawlessness and drift after the eight-month civil war that toppled Gadhafi last October. One potential candidate could be Mahmoud Jibril, the former transitional prime minister whom Abushagur edged out in winning the post.

The deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in eastern Libya underscored the country’s security vacuum, with heavily armed militants easily overrunning the compound and then disappearing into the night.

“The new government isn’t interested in governing; they are only interested in counting their posts and lining their pockets,” said Hamad Bougrain, a spokesman for the Feb. 17 Martyrs Brigade, one of several militias in the eastern city of Benghazi that have stepped in to provide security in the absence of a credible police force.

Abushagur was due to present nominations for a full 29-member Cabinet on Thursday, but dozens of protesters from the western town of Zawiya, which was heavily bombarded by pro-Gadhafi forces during the uprising, stormed the assembly building demanding greater representation. Some of the protesters also complained that too many ministries had been assigned to the Muslim Brotherhood, which lost out to liberal parties in parliamentary balloting in July.

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