Libya gets new government as divisions persist

World Tuesday 19/January/2016 21:49 PM
By: Times News Service
Libya gets new government as divisions persist

Tunis: Libya's Presidential Council announced a new government on Tuesday aimed at uniting the country's warring factions, though two of its nine members rejected it in a sign of continuing divisions over its UN-backed plan for a political transition.
Western powers hope the new government will deliver stability to Libya and tackle a growing threat from IS extremist militants, but critics say the agreement was forced through too quickly and does not evenly represent the country's groups and factions.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the announcement by the Tunis-based council, tasked with overseeing Libya's political transition, "an essential step".
The council had delayed its announcement by 48 hours without giving a reason.
Mogherini said only a unity government would be able "to end political divisions, defeat terrorism, and address the numerous security, humanitarian and economic challenges the country faces".
Libya has become deeply fractured since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Since the summer of 2014 it has had two rival governments and parliaments, operating from the capital Tripoli and from the east.
Both are supported by loose alliances of armed brigades of rebels who once fought Gaddafi.
Late on Monday, one of the council members who did not sign the document naming the new government, Ali Faraj Al Qatrani, announced he was withdrawing from the process, saying eastern Libya was underrepresented and there was not sufficient support for the armed forces allied to the eastern government.
He claimed there had been "a lack of seriousness and clarity in dealing with our basic demands" during the Presidential Council's negotiations.
The internationally recognised parliament in eastern Libya now has 10 days to approve the new government.
There has been no announcement on how and when it would be able to establish itself in Libya.
Tripoli is controlled by a faction called Libya Dawn, and the head of the self-declared government that it backs said last week that preparations by the Presidential Council to secure the capital violated military law.
The eastern military forces are led by Gen Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally who has become one of the most divisive figures among Libya's rival groups.
In a statement on Tuesday, UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler urged the chamber "uphold the country's national interest above all other considerations and promptly convene to discuss and endorse the proposed cabinet".
The new government will be led by Fayez Seraj, a lawmaker from the eastern parliament, known as the House of Representatives.
He also heads the Presidential Council.
Key ministerial nominations include Khalifa Abdessadeq as oil minister.
Libya's current oil production is under 400,000 barrels per day, less than a quarter of a 2011 high of 1.6 million bpd.