Libyan interim government sworn in

Nov 24 (Reuters) - Libya inaugurated an interim government on Thursday that must lead a country still reeling from a civil war that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi to elections in seven months’ time.

Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib and 18 members of his new cabinet were sworn in by National Transitional Council (NTC) chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil, each taking their turn to pledge allegiance to Libya with one hand placed on the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

The inauguration took place two days after the NTC named a cabinet favouring appointees who will soothe rivalries between regional factions.

Ministers were reserved about their plans for the upcoming weeks but several gave hints as to how the country will be run.

Foreign Minister Ashour Bin Hayal, from the eastern city of Derna, told Reuters that he plans to meet with “friends” who supported the revolution but said it was too soon to say if countries that did not openly support the uprising, such as Russia and China, will be snubbed.

Planning Minister Aisa al-Tuwajar said the government will ask for help from other countries and private organisations to prepare the country for nationwide elections in several months to form a national assembly that will then be given a year to draw up a new constitution before a parliamentary poll.

Six cabinet members, including Defence Minister Osama al-Juwali and Oil Minister Abdurrahim Ben Yazza did not attend but were due to be sworn in at a later date.

Five Amazigh, or Berber, members of the NTC boycotted the ceremony in protest that their ethnic group was not give more ministerial positions.

On Wednesday, a group calling itself the Libyan Amazigh Congress said in a statement it was suspending all relations with the NTC in protest at the choice of cabinet ministers.

The Amazigh suffered persecution under Gaddafi and are pressing for greater recognition for their language and culture in the new Libya. (Editing by Angus MacSwan)