BEIRUT

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Libya begins drawing up new constitution

Libyan army soldiers stand guard in a petrol station in the capital Tripoli on December 14, 2013. The army was deployed to secure gas station during a fuel shortage in the country. AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA LIBYA-CONFLICT-OIL

AL-BAIDA, Libya: Libya's constituent assembly, which has been charged with drawing up a new constitution, launched its work Monday in Al-Baida, in the country's east where violence has been rife since the 2011 revolt.

Dozens of officials, tribal chiefs and civil society representatives took part in the ceremony amid tightened security measures.

The new constitution has been billed as a milestone in the North African country's transition from the 42-year dictatorship of Moamer Kadhafi, who was overthrown and killed in 2011.

But 13 of the 60 assembly seats remain vacant, after unrest in certain areas stopped voting in a February 20 election to choose the body. A date for a new poll has yet to be set.

Assembly spokesman Naji al-Harbi said the remaining 47 members attended Monday's ceremony and held their first talks to elect a president and discuss rules of procedure.

The body, which has 18 months to prepare a draft constitution, is based in the eastern town as it was for the 1951 charter that Kadhafi abolished in 1977.

Eastern Libya was the cradle of the NATO-backed 2011 revolt.

The country is awash with weapons from the conflict, and authorities have struggled to establish security by integrating anti-Kadhafi militias into the regular army or police force.

 

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