* Eight of 27 ministers are no-shows, underlining disarray
* Swearing-in proceeds to expedite tackling of Libya's woes
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ali Shuaib
TRIPOLI, Nov 14 Libya's first elected government
was sworn in under tight security on Wednesday, inheriting the
daunting task of establishing democracy in a country plagued by
rival militias who helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year.
In a national congress hall built by Gaddafi shortly before
his fall, new cabinet ministers swore an oath to protect the
North African state, a major oil producer.
"I swear to God that I will fulfil my duties with all
dedication to be loyal to the goals of the 17th of February
Revolution, and to respect the constitution and its rules and
its articles and to completely care for the needs of Libyans and
to protect the Libya and the unity of its lands," each minister
intoned from a podium.
In a continued sign of disarray, eight of the 27 ministers
nominated by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan did not show up after
some members of the elected congress queried their credentials.
Ministers in charge of electricity, higher education,
relations with congress and interior were rejected by the North
African state's integrity commission because of questionable
backgrounds, including alleged ties with the Gaddafi regime.
Rulings on four other cabinet nominees - foreign affairs,
agriculture, social affairs, and religious affairs - were
"The country cannot suffer delays any more so we needed to
swear in this government and hand it power," said congress
member Mohamed al-Hudeiri. "Pending a decision by the
commission, these portfolios will be handled by the deputy
ministers until we find replacements for them."
VIOLENCE DISRUPTS ASSEMBLY
Libya's national assembly approved Zeidan's proposed
government on Oct. 31 after rejecting his predecessor's line-up.
But the list of members sparked violent protests outside the
congress, forcing it to adjourn early.
Former rebel militias gathered with weapons outside the
building, shooting in the air and at one point tried to storm
into the congress' building, demanding the removal of those
members they accused of being old Gaddafi loyalists.
To avoid similar violent outbursts on Wednesday, Libyan
national army forces cordoned off the congress headquarters,
standing guard with pick-up trucks mounted with anti-aircraft
weapons. Sniffer dogs were also deployed.
Aware of Libya's sharp regional tensions, Zeidan had said he
had tried to strike a geographic balance among his 27 ministers.
He nominated Ali Aujali, Libya's ambassador to the United
States, as foreign minister; Mohammed al-Barghathi, who served
in the Libyan air force, as defence minister; and Abdelbari
al-Arusi, from the western town Zawiyah, as oil minister.
A former diplomat who defected in the 1980s to become an
outspoken Gaddafi critic, Zeidan will govern the country while
the congress, elected in July, passes laws and helps draft a new
constitution to be put to a national referendum next year.
Congress elected Zeidan prime minister this month after his
predecessor, Mustafa Abushagur, lost a confidence vote over his
choice of ministers.
Fighting in Tripoli earlier this month between competing
militias underlined the challenges Libya's first freely elected
government faces in overcoming clan, regional and sectarian
divisions standing in the way of modernisation.
(Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi)