Libya leader says government to stay put until elections

TRIPOLI Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:08pm EDT

Recruits of the first rocket brigade of the Libyan National Army march during a graduation parade in Benghazi April 28, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

Recruits of the first rocket brigade of the Libyan National Army march during a graduation parade in Benghazi April 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) decided on Sunday to keep the interim government in power in the run up to a June election, its leader said, quashing rumors of a reshuffle that has sowed uncertainty in the strife-torn state.

The NTC is the unelected body internationally recognized as the ultimate power in the country after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi last year.

The council set up an interim government in November to take care of the day-to-day running of services - but both organizations have faced regular criticism for its failure to impose its authority on a country still awash with weapons.

"Most (NTC) members decided to keep the government as it is now," one NTC source present at the closed Sunday meeting told Reuters. "They thought it was better than make changes two months before the elections."

Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil confirmed the government would stay on.

"The government and NTC should cooperate together for the elections to succeed," he told a news conference. "Time is short for changing things (which) could affect the elections."

An NTC spokesman earlier this month said the council was reviewing the work of some of the government's ministers with a view to possibly replacing some of them.

Jalil last week denied a report the interim government had been sacked, the latest in a series of claims and counter-claims that have created an atmosphere of confusion six months after the conflict ended.

Jalil said the interim government still had to ensure security ahead of the election and collect weapons from the country's array of militias.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib and Taha Zargoun; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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