Libya's ruling council keeping Cabinet in place

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By RAMI AL-SHAHEIBI, Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya's interim ruling council decided Sunday to keep its current Cabinet despite an internal row over dismissing it for alleged incompetence, with a crucial election less than two months away.

The head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, told reporters the Cabinet will stay in office to ensure the election is held on time.

The June vote is meant to choose a 200-member assembly to form a government and prepare for writing Libya's new constitution.

"Time is short, and any changes or new measures could obstruct the election of the national council, which is a date that is most important for Libyans and internationally at this critical phase," he said.

Both the NTC and the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib have faced persistent criticism that they have been ineffective in tackling the multiple troubles facing the deeply divided nation. The two sides have traded accusations over who is to blame.

The NTC has struggled to impose its authority over the vast desert country since the overthrow of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi last year. Much of the nation is ruled by tribes and militia forces, and clashes among them have been frequent. The central government in Tripoli has been almost powerless to stop them.

Last week the NTC voted no confidence in the Cabinet but failed to agree on who would head a new one. The discussions in the council over dismissing the government reflected confusion over decision-making and power struggles among different groups ahead of the election.

On Sunday, Abdul-Jalil renewed his confidence in the government, saying it will deal also with security issues and monetary rewards for revolutionaries. He said putting former regime officials on trial is another priority.

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