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SIRTE, (Libya): Libya’s prime minister-designate urged lawmakers to vote for his new government Monday in the first reunited session of parliament in years that the UN hailed as “historic”.

A total of 132 members of the 188-strong House of Representatives gathered to vote on interim premier Abdul Hamid Dbeibah’s cabinet line-up, a crucial step toward December elections and stability after a decade of violence.

Oil-rich Libya descended into chaos after dictator Muammar Qadhafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, resulting in multiple forces vying for power.

A UN-supervised process aims to unite the country after an October ceasefire between forces loyal to two rival administrations, each backed by foreign powers, in the east and west of the country.

The UN mission in Libya called Monday’s meeting “historic” and praised the “convening a reunified session after many years of divisions and paralysis”.

Noting a “significant number” of lawmakers taking part, the UN said it “represents a critical step in unifying the country and preparing it to hold democratic national elections”.

“This opportunity to open a new chapter for Libya should not be missed,” it said in a statement.

After three hours of debate, parliament called for a new session on Tuesday to give Dbeibah a chance to respond to questions.

The session was held in Sirte, Qadhafi’s hometown, halfway between Tripoli, where the UN-recognised government is based, and the east, seat of the rival administration.

Dbeibah was selected in February at UN-sponsored talks attended by a cross section of Libyans to steer the country toward the December 24 polls. His interim government faces the daunting challenge of addressing the many grievances of Libyans, from a dire economic crisis and soaring unemployment to crippling inflation and wretched public services.

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