Libyan Prime Minister-Elect Presents Cabinet Nominees
Libyan Prime Minister-elect Ali Zaidan presented lawmakers with a 27-member Cabinet he said will ensure broad representation for everyone in the oil-rich North African nation.
The list submitted by Zaidan to the National Congress today includes representatives from Libya’s regions and from the main secular and Islamist parties in parliament. The Cabinet list aims to avoid the same pitfalls that cost Zaidan’s predecessor, Mustafa Abushagur, his job after he was ousted earlier this month amid objections to his nominees.
The new government seeks to address Libya’s needs and “all its wounds” following the uprising last year that toppled Muammar Qaddafi, and aims to ensure that all areas of the country are represented so the “nation is present” in the Cabinet, Zaidan said in comments aired on state television. Lawmakers in Tripoli will discuss the nominees later today.
Zaidan, a human-rights lawyer who was appointed to the post on Oct. 14, said his nominees included officials from the pro- business National Forces Alliance and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party -- the parliament’s two largest voting blocs. He also said there is a balance of officials who represent Libya’s three provinces in the west, east and south.
Abdelbari al-Arusi was appointed as oil minister and Ali al-Oujali, Libya’s ambassador to the U.S., as foreign minister. In addition to the 27 ministers, Zaidan named three deputy prime ministers and two ministers of state who haven’t been assigned portfolios.
Officials from oil-rich eastern Libya were nominated for key security portfolios. Omar Sulieman Shwayel, from Benghazi, the principle city in the eastern province of Cyrenaica, has been named interior minister. A former senior police officer under the regime of Qaddafi, he switched sides when the rebellion broke out in Benghazi in February 2011 and became head of security for the National Transitional Council, Libya’s transitional government which handed over to the National Congress after July 7 elections.
Defence Minister-nominee Mohammed Mahmoud Albarghati is a former pilot, previously stationed in Benghazi and Tobruk, who joined the 2011 uprising. Two women are nominated for posts, for the tourism and social affairs portfolios.
Libya remains unstable a year after Qaddafi was toppled and killed. The central government’s ability to exert its influence over the nation has been curbed by its failure to convince militias to disarm and disband.
Complicating that push, which took on new urgency after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, is that officials rely on militias to provide security. The consulate attack, which led to the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, has become a political football in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 U.S. election.
Reflecting the unease in Libya, Defense Minister Osama Jweli said late yesterday that the government has no control over Bani Walid, a pro-Qaddafi stronghold about 190 kilometers (118 miles) southeast of Tripoli where thousands of people have been displaced amid heavy fighting.
Jweli said he opposes using militias in the Bani Walid operation to capture people wanted in connection with the death of a former rebel credited with Qaddafi’s capture last year. Militias from the Libya Shield, an umbrella group of government- allied fighters, were involved in the operation.
Jweli said in televised comments that he and soldiers accompanying him were denied access to the town last week, showing that “the chief of staff of the Libyan army has no control over Libya Shield forces.” Days earlier, authorities said they had secured control over Bani Walid in an operation that left dozens of troops and fighters dead or wounded.
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