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Disputed new PM sworn in

Libya's parliament swore in a new prime minister Sunday despite a disputed vote and walkouts from a largely secular bloc, lawmakers and a Libyan television reported.

Despite the protest from a number of non-Islamist parliamentarians, the interim parliament swore in 42-year-old businessman Ahmed Matiq in a televised session headed by the second deputy of parliament, Saleh al-Makhzoum, and member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party.

"I swear I will carry out my duties honestly and in devotion," Matiq told parliament as several seats appeared empty. "Thank you for your confidence."

Al-Makhzoum asked Matiq to form the new government within two weeks or sooner.

"The country can't bear any more delays," al-Makhzoum said. "We need a government to handle the budget."

Initially, only 113 lawmakers voted for Matiq, falling short of the 120 votes necessary to secure his win. After the session was adjourned, Libyan TV station Al-Ahrar reported that voting resumed and Matiq secured eight new votes.

Lawmaker Mohammed Samoud confirmed Matiq, from Misrata, won.

Lawmaker Fatma al-Majbari told Al-Ahrar the new votes came after the session was adjourned and after absent lawmakers were asked to vote after the session was terminated. She and another lawmaker who refused to be named said they will contest the decision.

"There are violations in today's session," al-Majbari told the TV station.

Omar al-Hassi, a political science professor from the country's second-largest city of Benghazi, ran against Matiq. He is backed by the hard-line Islamist bloc in parliament.

The vote had already been postponed last week after a shooting broke out outside the main entrance of the parliament.

Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni had declined last month to form a new government, amid intensified divisions and rising unrest in the oil-rich country. The earlier Western-backed prime minister, Ali Zidan, was pushed out of office in March in a no-confidence vote following a standoff between the central government and powerful militias, and a power struggle between Islamists and non-Islamist factions.

Libya has seen a severe deterioration in security over the past two years following the ouster and the killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in an eight-month civil war.

The Canadian Press

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