* Libyan crude exports slashed by port protests since summer
* Maiteeq's new gov't facing range of challengers
* Libya lurching from crisis to crisis since 2011
(Recasts; adds details on developments)
By Ulf Laessing and Ahmed Elumami
TRIPOLI, May 26 The leader of the protesters
occupying Libyan oil ports said on Monday he did not recognise
Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq's new government and suggested a
previously agreed deal to end his blockade could be in jeopardy.
Ibrahim Jathran, who wants more autonomy from Tripoli for
his eastern region, had agreed with Maiteeq's predecessor to
steadily end the protests, which have cut the OPEC member
country's oil exports after the ports fell under his control
Jathran's statement added to the opposition to Maiteeq, a
businessman backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, who was appointed
two weeks ago in a chaotic, parliamentary vote that prompted
anti-Islamist factions to challenge his legitimacy.
Libya's parliament, the General National Congress, has been
paralysed by infighting among pro- and anti-Islamist, tribal and
regional factions vying for influence in the chaos that followed
the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.
"All options are on the table," Jathran said, without a
direct reference to the oil accord. "If the parliament keeps
with its decision on the new government, then we will take a
different position than we have before."
Keeping ports closed will be a blow to Maiteeq's new
government, with the country's oil production down to 160,000
barrels per day (bpd) compared with 1.4 million bpd because of
the Jathran blockade and other pipeline protests.
In a further complication, a deputy parliamentary president
sent a letter on Monday to Maiteeq's predecessor, Abdullah
al-Thinni, asking him to stay on because a justice ministry body
had ruled Maiteeq's initial election by parliament was illegal.
It was not clear how Thinni would respond to the request,
which his spokesman said he had received. He asked to step down
from the prime minister's post after gunmen attacked his family.
His predecessor was ousted by parliament in March.
Three years after Gaddafi's demise, rival brigades of former
fighters allied with competing political factions are the real
power brokers, often challenging the weak central government to
make their own demands.
A renegade former army general, Khalifa Haftar, has also
challenged Maiteeq's appointment as the third premier since
March, reflecting deeper political turmoil.
A week ago, gunmen claiming loyalty to Haftar attacked
parliament as part of his campaign against Islamists, and he
demanded lawmakers hand over power to a panel of judges.
Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally who broke with the autocrat in
the 1980s and spent years in U.S. exile, claims his irregular
forces are fighting to purge the country of Islamist militants
because the government and parliament failed.
Libya has proposed an early election in June to vote in a
new parliament as a way to ease the crisis, though Maiteeq said
on Monday he expected his government would stay on past the vote
for the new legislature.
(Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)