Libyan parliament agrees on Cabinet amid protests

AP, TRIPOLI

Fri, Nov 02, 2012 - Page 7

Libya’s parliament on Wednesday approved the country’s new Cabinet in a vote of confidence, the parliament spokesman said, but armed protesters cut the main road leading to the parliament, vowing not to leave until members of the ousted regime of dictator Muammar Qaddafi are excluded from political life.

Omar Humidan said five of the 27 ministers would be reconsidered after concerns were raised over their ties to the deposed regime.

That was not good enough for the protesters, who tried to storm the parliament building, but were turned back by security forces firing in the air. Then they camped outside the convention center that houses the parliament sessions.

The vote on Wednesday approving the Cabinet was 105 in favor, nine against and 18 abstentions, after parliament’s main political blocs gave their support to the new prime minister, Ali Zidan.

The new Cabinet faces the daunting task of imposing control over armed groups, mostly former rebel fighters who defeated Qaddafi’s forces during last year’s eight-month civil war.

A year after the overthrow and death of Qaddafi, Libyans are seeking a broader distribution of political power among the country’s three main regions, after decades of domination and discrimination by the dictator’s highly centralized state based in the capital, Tripoli.

Zidan said he had talks with Libya’s largest political blocs in parliament, the Alliance of National Forces by Western-minded and wartime prime minister Mahmoud Jibril and the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm Justice and Construction Party, to ensure support for his Cabinet.

Zidan, a former human rights lawyer, is the second prime minister to be named by the 200-member parliament. Legislators dismissed his predecessor, Mustafa Abushaqur, after they said he had put forward unknown people for key Cabinet posts and proposed a government lacking diversity.

Protesters said they would hold an open-ended sit-in until Zidan presents a new Cabinet, with only “nationalist figures” and no remnants of the old regime.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement late on Wednesday that France “expresses its support for the new government” and called for a “rapid re-establishment of security in Libya.”