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Libya PM Asks Deputy Ministers to Stay as Nation Struggles

Libya’s new prime minister asked deputy ministers serving under his predecessor to remain in their jobs, reversing an earlier decision to fire them as the oil-rich nation struggles to rebound from last year’s uprising.

Ali Zaidan, who was sworn in Nov. 14, earlier faced objections by lawmakers and an integrity commission over some of his appointments to his Cabinet. The premier had yesterday been quoted by his spokesman as asking the deputy ministers to finalize their handover to their successors.

“There was some confusion -- the deputies are out, but in practice they will continue until a new deputy is appointed,” Mohammed Al-Sbahee, media coordinator for Zaidan’s office, said by phone today in Tripoli.

The integrity commission has so far approved 24 ministerial appointments while others remain under study, Abdu Addayem Grabli, a member of the group, said today by phone. Zaidan’s government has yet to outline its policy platform, including social, economic and political priorities. Officials had said during the swearing-in ceremony that restoring security was key to helping stabilize the nation that sits atop Africa’s largest proven reserves of crude.

While oil revenues netted $44.1 billion in the first 10 months of the year, according to government figures, the rest of the economy is essentially in stasis, complain businessmen like Mohamed Buyukhadra, branch manager of Turkish industrial plants manufacturing company Gama.

“Everything is very slow and unclear, at the moment, and I have the feeling that nobody knows where to start,” Buyukhadra, said in an interview in Tripoli on Nov. 25.

The Interior Ministry’s lack of new leadership until now has amplified the security vacuum in the country that has mushroomed since Muammar Qaddafi’s ouster last year.

“Frustration is boiling over. There has been an increase in unrest, opportunistic crime, smaller clashes throughout the country,” said Alan Fraser, risk analyst for London-based AKE consultancy, in a phone interview from London. “We are witnessing a feeling of impunity among criminals and the longer the country is without a robust ministry of interior, the worse this will get.”

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