Libya's new Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq speaks at a news conference with members of the government in Tripoli June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Hani Amara
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Surrounded by an Islamist militia, Libya's newly elected prime minister took office as the country's interim premier vowed Tuesday not to hand over power, the latest crisis to roil the North African nation as a renegade general leads an offensive against Islamists.Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said in a televised statement that he ordered forces guarding the Cabinet building to stand down to avoid bloodshed late Monday night. The political struggle over the prime minister's office risks further inflaming Libya as renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter and army units loyal to him have been battling Islamist militias. A former army chief under dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Hifter has rallied support from the country's weakened military, its anti-Islamist politicians, tribes and diplomats, vowing to crush the Islamist militias he blames for Libya's instability.Islamist lawmakers backing Maiteg blamed al-Thinni for the fighting in Benghazi.
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