Amid scepticism, a new Libya interim government emerges to end chaos

Amid scepticism, a new Libya interim government emerges to end chaos

The winning leadership group also includes Musa al-Koni, from the south, and Abdullah al-Lafi, from the west, in the presidency council. Bashagha tweeted his support for the process and for the new government after the vote.

All candidates for the new government promised to honour the plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24 and not to run for office then. The UN publicly displayed their signed pledges.

Dbeibeh has until February 26 to present a new government to the parliament, which then has three weeks to approve it.

“This is the last chance for the Libyan people and political leaders to end the conflict and division in the country. We hope to reach the stage of elections, just as they have promised, to achieve the people’s demands,” said Gamal al-Fallah, a political activist in Benghazi.

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Analysts describe the new government team as surprise winners of a leadership contest against three other groups of candidates presented to the 75 Libyan participants picked by the United Nations to take part in political talks.

However, with many factions in the country afraid to surrender influence they already hold, and with foreign powers invested in local allies, the new government may rapidly come under pressure.

Babies play with their mothers on board the Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel after being rescued in the Mediterranean sea fleeing Libya on board a precarious wooden boat In January.Credit:AP

The appointment of a new government may also do little to change the balance of military power on the ground, where armed groups rule the streets and factions remain split between east and west along a fortified front-line.

A slate that included the eastern-based parliament head Aguila Saleh and western-based interior minister Fathi Bashagha was widely seen as the most likely to succeed but lost in a run-off by 39 votes to 34.

“This is certainly a shake-up, and as a result it will get support from groups that were preparing to fight Aguila or Fathi,” said Tarek Megerisi, of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

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The latest UN process emerged from a Berlin conference last year and gathered pace in the autumn after commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based forces were repelled from a 14-month assault on Tripoli.

It has also involved a military ceasefire, but not all terms of the ceasefire have been met – a sign of continued mistrust on both sides and internal fractures within both camps.

The new government may make it harder to bridge the east-west divide, said analyst Jalel Harchaoui of the Clingendael Institute.

Though born in the east, Menfi is seen as close politically to the current Tripoli government leadership and without strong ties to Haftar or other eastern leaders, he added.

Some Libyans have been critical of a process which they view as being managed from abroad and which they fear will allow existing powermongers to cling to their influence.

“It’s just a painkiller to portray Libya as stable for a while. But war and tension will certainly come back sooner or later so long as militias have power,” said Abdulatif al-Zorgani, a 45-year-old state employee in Tripoli.

Turkey, which backed the Tripoli government, and the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which have supported Haftar, publicly welcomed the new government.

Reuters

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