Libya swears in first elected government

Wed Nov 14, 2012 2:51pm EST
 
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ali Shuaib

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's first elected government was sworn in under tight security on Wednesday with the task of establishing democracy and reining in rival militias who helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year.

In a national congress hall built by Gaddafi shortly before his fall, cabinet ministers swore an oath to protect the North African state, a major oil producer.

The national assembly approved Prime Minister Ali Zeidan's proposed government on October 31 but the list set off violent protests outside congress.

A former diplomat who defected in the 1980s to become an outspoken Gaddafi critic, Zeidan will govern the country while the congress, elected in July, passes laws and helps draft a new constitution to be put to a national referendum next year.

Congress elected Zeidan prime minister last month after his predecessor lost a confidence vote over his choice of ministers.

On Wednesday, eight of the 27 ministers nominated by Zeidan were not present at the swearing in ceremony after some members of congress queried their credentials.

"This government will be strong, firm, strict and will do things with strength with the support of the national congress and the people of our country so we can achieve the ambitions and goals of the revolution," Zeidan said.

Outgoing Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib handed over a gold-colored replica of Libya to Zeidan. Cries of "God is greatest" filled the room as the ministers prepared to take the oath while a video showing stages of last year's uprising against Gaddafi was played.   Continued...

 
Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zeidan speaks to members of the Libyan National Congress in Tripoli November 14, 2012. Libya's first elected government was sworn in under tight security on Wednesday, inheriting the daunting task of establishing democracy in a country plagued by rival militias who helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny