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Western-backed Libyan PM removed

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 7:57 p.m.

TRIPOLI — Libya's parliament ousted Western-backed prime minister Ali Zidan in a vote on Tuesday, removing the first democratically chosen leader, who had struggled for 15 months to stem the country's spiraling descent into chaos, with divisive political power struggles and rampant militias out of the control of the weak central government.

The government has been paralyzed for months by the power struggle between Islamists in parliament trying to remove Zidan and anti-Islamist political factions — each side backed by rival militias. Zidan's removal occurred as another fault line in the country was rumbling — between the central government and the restive eastern half of the country, where many are demanding greater autonomy, with each side again backed by their own militias.

A powerful militia from the western city of Misrata clashed with a rival eastern militia outside the central city of Sirte in heavy fighting, on a drive to take control of the oil terminal of al-Sidra, farther east along the coast.

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