Islamist militia help new Libyan PM seize office

The newly elected Libyan prime minister has taken charge of his office with the help of an Islamist militia, officials said, the latest in the crisis roiling the North African country where a renegade general is leading an offensive against Islamists.

PTI| Last Updated: Jun 03, 2014, 19:47 PM IST

Tripoli: The newly elected Libyan prime minister has taken charge of his office with the help of an Islamist militia, officials said, the latest in the crisis roiling the North African country where a renegade general is leading an offensive against Islamists.

Lawmaker Fatma al-Majbari said on her Facebook page that militiamen helped bring Ahmed Maiteg to government headquarters in central Tripoli yesterday.

Maiteg, who was recently elected prime minister by Libya`s Islamist-dominated parliament, then held his first Cabinet meeting behind closed doors, said government spokesman Alaa al-Kassab.
Maiteg`s adviser Nadhal Roumidah says the move came after Maiteg was ordered by Libya`s Islamist-dominated parliament to assume his post even though the incumbent refused to give up the office.

Hours later, in his first televised statement from the Cabinet, Maiteg condemned the recent violence that has rocked the eastern city of Benghazi.

Benghazi is the birthplace of the uprising that led to the toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in Libya`s 2011 civil war, and also the seat of rogue Gen Khalifa Hifter`s campaign.

A former Gadhafi-era army chief, Hifter has rallied support from the country`s weakened military, its anti-Islamist politicians, tribes and diplomats, vowing to crush the Islamist militias he blames for Libya`s instability Since last weekend, helicopters flown by pilots who sided with Hifter have bombed Islamist militia camps in Benghazi.

The fighting has paralysed the city, with schools cancelling end-of-term exams and hospitals calling for blood donations.

A Benghazi medical official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the death toll from the recent fighting in the city has reached 22, with dozens wounded.

Outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has contested the legality of Maiteg`s election, saying the judiciary should have final say in the matter.

Libya`s Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to rule on Maiteg`s election on Thursday.