5 May 2014

Libya: Assembly Confirms Ahmed Matiq As Prime Minister

Photo: Iason Foounten/UN
Celebrations (file photo).

Ahmed Matiq, Libya's top candidate for the premiership, has been confirmed as the head of the transitional government. Prior to the official announcement, lawmakers argued over the validity of his appointment.

After hours of uncertainty surrounding the outcome of a parliamentary vote the previous day, businessman Ahmed Matiq emerged on Monday morning victorious as the county's latest prime minister. Libya's General National Congress (GNC) confirmed he had won enough votes from lawmakers the previous day.

"Ahmed Omar Matiq was appointed head of the transitional government, and asked to form his cabinet and present it to the GNC for a confidence vote within 15 days," said the decree, which was approved by parliamentary speaker Nuri Au Sahmein and published on the parliament's website.

It was not immediately clear how lawmakers reached this final decision, given an argument between the deputy parliamentary speakers that ensued after the initial vote count on Sunday gave Ahmed Matiq the lead over opponent Omar al-Hassi.

While the 42-year-old businessman had won 113 of 185 votes - a majority - he had failed to garner the 120 quorum needed according to Libyan law. Libyan TV station al-Ahrar later reported that voting had resumed and that Matiq had won an additional eight votes.

The second deputy speaker, Saleh al-Makhzoum, then announced that Matiq had been sworn in. However, the first deputy speaker, Ezzeddin al-Awami, criticized the outcome, calling it "null and void."In a letter on the cabinet website, the second deputy speaker called on the former Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to remain in his post.

Three weeks ago, ex-Prime Minister al-Thinni quit the premiership, citing an attack by gunmen on his family.

Matiq is Libya's fifth premier since the downfall of Moammar Gadhafi. Unrest and the prevalence of militant groups continue to inhibit the north African country from restabilizing.

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