New Libyan foreign minister wins integrity appeal

TRIPOLI Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:28pm EST

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's proposed foreign minister was cleared to take office by an Integrity Commission on Tuesday after some members of parliament questioned how close the former ambassador to the United States had been to ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Ali Aujali was among eight of the 27 ministers nominated by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan who were referred to the commission, which studies the backgrounds of public officials, after protests outside congress over the make up of the cabinet.

Congress only elected Zeidan prime minister last month after his predecessor lost a confidence vote over his choice of ministers - reflecting the fractious politics in a country previously run with an eccentric system of personal rule.

The eight ministers were invited to appeal their cases, and Aujali won his, according to a statement on the Facebook page of the Integrity Commission, which is made up of legal experts appointed by the previous ruling assembly.

"After deliberation and based on reasons outlined in the application of the national standards of integrity in favour of Mr. Aujali, unless new evidence shows a need for revision of this resolution. The prime minister has been notified of the decision," the statement read.

In a separate statement, the Integrity Commission also cleared Agriculture Minister Ahmed Al-Ourfi and Social Affairs Minister Kamla al-Mazini who were also under investigation, clearing three out of the eight questioned ministerial nominees.

Aujali was Libya's ambassador to the United States during the war that toppled Gaddafi in August 2011. A telegram presented to the commission as part of his appeal showed he had defected on March 22 - a month after the uprising began.

Integrity Commission spokesman Nasser Bilnur said Aujali was now able to take up his position as foreign Minister.

"Ali Aujali can immediately take up his duties as foreign minister of Libya and receive his files from his deputy," he said.

(Reporting By Ali Shuaib; additional reporting by Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Editing by Alison Williams and Jon Hemming)

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