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Eastern Libya oil rebel says does not recognise new government

Source: Reuters - Mon, 26 May 2014 20:22 GMT
Author: Reuters
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TRIPOLI, May 26 (Reuters) - The leader of protesters occupying Libyan oil ports said on Monday he did not recognise the new government of Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq and suggested a deal to end the blockade, reached with the previous administration, could be jeopardised.

Ibrahim Jathran, who wants more federalist power for his eastern region, had agreed with Maiteeq's predecessor to steadily open up ports that have been under control of his men since last summer, and help restart Libya's oil exports.

He made no direct reference to the oil deal, but in a statement on a television channel operated by his federalist movement, he said that with Maiteeq in office his group may be forced to change its position.

"All options are on the table," he said. "If the parliament keeps with its decision on the new government then we will take a different position than we have before."

Maiteeq, a businessman backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, was approved two weeks ago in a chaotic parliamentary vote that prompted opponents like Jathran and anti-Islamist factions to challenge his legitimacy.

Libya's parliament, the General National Congress, has been paralysed by infighting among Islamist, anti-Islamist, tribal and regional factions vying for influence in the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

The North African state's petroleum production was at 160,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Monday, battered by Jathran's blockade and other protests that have slashed output from 1.4 million bpd before last summer.

Three years after Gaddafi's fall, rival brigades of former fighters allied with competing political factions are still the real power-brokers, often challenging the weak central government to make their own demands. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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