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Libya still a threat, Obama says

Vehicles burn after armed Libyan demonstrators stormed the headquarters of the Raf Allah al-Sahati Brigade, a local militia, located at a farm in the Hawari region 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the centre of Benghazi, in Libya, on September 22, 2012. Hundreds of Libyan protesters forced members of a hardline Islamist militia out of their base in the second city of Benghazi, setting fire to and wrecking the military compound. UPI/Tariq AL-hun.
Vehicles burn after armed Libyan demonstrators stormed the headquarters of the Raf Allah al-Sahati Brigade, a local militia, located at a farm in the Hawari region 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the centre of Benghazi, in Libya, on September 22, 2012. Hundreds of Libyan protesters forced members of a hardline Islamist militia out of their base in the second city of Benghazi, setting fire to and wrecking the military compound. UPI/Tariq AL-hun. | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- More than three years after the end of Moammar Gadhafi's rule, Libyan still poses a threat to U.S. national interests, President Obama said.

Obama issued an executive order Thursday saying the situation in Libya "continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

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U.S. military forces joined a NATO response in 2011 to protect civilians from forces loyal to the Gadhafi regime. A 2011 revolution led to civil war, which ended later the same year with Gadhafi's death.

Libya has struggled to maintain a level of national security since then because of violent internal rivalries. Despite the security situation, Obama said the U.S. government was working to wind down sanctions on Libya in response to the establishment of a democratically elected government.

Libyans marked Monday as the third anniversary of their revolution. On Thursday, Libyans voted for members of an assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution.

U.N. special envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri said in a statement Thursday the Libyan people shouldn't "underestimate the importance of these elections."

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The Tripoli Post reported Friday less than 30 percent of the estimated 3.4 million eligible voters registered to take part in the process. Turnout was "very low," the report said.

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