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Interim Libyan government wins parliament confidence vote

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MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP or licensors


Libya's parliament voted Wednesday to approve a unity government to lead the North African nation to December elections, a key step towards resolving a decade of chaos and violence.

Oil-rich Libya descended into conflict after dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, resulting in multiple forces vying for power.

After two days of intense debate in the central city of Sirte, parliament approved Dbeibah's cabinet, with 121 of the 132 lawmakers present voting in support, his spokesman said.

The interim government must now tackle the many grievances of Libyans, from a dire economic crisis and soaring unemployment to crippling inflation and wretched public services.

Libya has been split between the UN-recognised Government of National Accord, based in the capital Tripoli and backed by Turkey, and an administration in the east supported by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, with the backing of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.

- Foreign forces remain -

Dbeibah, 61, a billionaire businessman from the western city of Misrata, was selected in February alongside an interim three-member presidency council to head the new unity administration.

The process has been marred by allegations of vote-buying, but Dbeibah defended the composition of his government.

"My first objective was to choose people with whom I would be able to work, no matter where they come from," Dbeibah said, during the debate in parliament.

Dbeibah's government includes two deputy prime ministers, 26 ministers and six ministers of state, with the key foreign affairs and justice portfolios handed to women, a first in Libya.

Another key task facing the new administration is ensuring the departure of an estimated 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters. Dbeibah told lawmakers they were "a stab in our back".