Libya congress approves new PM's proposed government

TRIPOLI Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:30pm EDT

1 of 2. A bench stands as a makeshift roadblock close to the headquarters of the Libyan General National Congress in Tripoli October 31, 2012. Protesters stormed the national assembly on Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of a vote on a proposed coalition government named by the country's new prime minister just hours earlier.

Credit: Reuters/Ismail Zitouny

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's General National Congress approved new Prime Minister Ali Zeidan's proposed government line-up on Wednesday but cut its session short as security forces fended off protesters outside.

Zeidan presented a coalition cabinet on Tuesday, drawn from liberal and Islamist parties, to the national congress, which had rejected his predecessor's cabinet line-up.

The assembly had met on Tuesday to vote but its session was postponed after protesters, angry with some of the nominations, stormed its headquarters.

A televised vote on Wednesday showed that 105 congress members voted in favor of the line-up. The congress is made up of 200 members but not all were present.

"The government was approved. Now the session is over due to the mess outside," congress member Suleiman Zoubi told Reuters.

As congress met amid tight security, Libyan security forces briefly fired shots in the air to disperse a crowd of about 100 protesters outside the building, a Reuters witness said.

Zeidan needed congress' approval to take office. His transitional government will focus on restoring security in the oil-producing country where many militias have yet to disarm since Gaddafi's overthrow last year.

Congress elected Zeidan prime minister this month after his predecessor, Mustafa Abushagur, lost a confidence vote on his choice of ministers, criticized inside and outside the assembly.

(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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