Libyan minister candidate cleared of Gaddafi ties

TRIPOLI Wed Dec 5, 2012 12:06am IST

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The proposed candidate for Interior Minister in Libya's new government has won an appeal clearing him of close ties to the overthrown regime of Muammar Gaddafi, a ruling congress spokesman said on Tuesday.

Ashour Shuail was among eight of 27 ministers nominated by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan who were referred to the Integrity Commission, which studies the backgrounds of public officials, after protests outside congress over the make up of the cabinet.

The eight ministers were not present at a November 14 government swearing-in ceremony after some congress members queried their credentials and questioned how close they had been to Gaddafi.

The Integrity Commission, which is made up of legal experts appointed by the previous ruling assembly, said last week it had cleared Zeidan's proposed foreign, agriculture and social affairs ministers.

Others who were rejected by the commission, such as Shuail, were invited to appeal their cases. Shuail, who was chief of police in the eastern city of Benghazi last year, won his case, congress spokesman Omar Hmaidan said on Tuesday.

"He can now take up his position," Hmaidan told reporters. "We are waiting for him to be sworn in."

Shuail is said to have proved that he joined the rebellion against Gaddafi shortly after it began in February 2011.

As interior minister, he will have the tough task of improving security in a country awash with weapons. His predecessor Fawzi Abdel A'al came under heavy criticism for failing to integrate ex-rebel fighters into the official police force.

Congress elected Zeidan prime minister in October after his predecessor lost a confidence vote over his choice of ministers - reflecting the fractious politics in a country previously run with an eccentric system of personal rule.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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