Libya's new prime minister proposes new Cabinet

October 30, 2012 - 8:33 AM
Disillusioned Libya

In this Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 photo, a Libyan family in Tripoli walk by a mural exhibition celebrating one year since the fall of dictator Muammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, Libya. One year on, the country is still trying to overcome the legacy of one of the most erratic leaders of modern times as well as a brutal eight month struggle that left the country awash in weapons, militias and very few viable institutions of the state. (AP/Paul Schemm)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya's new prime minister on Tuesday put forward a Cabinet for parliamentary approval he said represents the breadth of the country's political spectrum and includes members of the main liberal and Islamist parties.

Ali Zidan told the National General Congress in a morning session that he tried to strike a geographic balance between different regions and cities. The proposed government faces a vote of confidence later in the day.

"I tried to put into consideration the element of geography and to avoid biases to a certain region against another," Zidan told parliament. "We don't want to repeat past mistakes or to provoke the street," he told legislators.

Zidan, a former human rights lawyer elected on Oct. 14, 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 individuals for key Cabinet posts and proposed a government lacking diversity.

Zidan said he held talks with the country's political parties including the two biggest blocs in parliament, the Alliance of National Forces led by liberal wartime Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, and the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Justice and Construction Party. Such talks are important to guarantee that his 27-member Cabinet lineup passes the vote of confidence in parliament.

A year after the overthrow and death of Moammar Gadhafi, 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.

The next Cabinet faces the herculean task of reigning in a mushrooming number of armed groups filled mostly with former rebel fighters who defeated Gadhafi's forces during last year's eight-month conflict. The Cabinet must also build state institutions such as the judiciary, police, military and others from scratch, and rebuild cities and towns demolished during the conflict.

The proposed Cabinet gives the interior and defense portfolios to ministers from Libya's second largest city of Benghazi, and reserves at least two posts for ministers from the third largest city of Misrata. Two proposed ministers are women.