Surprised election for the post of interim prime minister

Participants in a surprise turnout in Switzerland under the auspices of the United Nations on Friday appointed Abdul Hamid Dabiba as the interim prime minister, who will have preparations for the national election to be held in December.

Mr Dabiba and three members of the Presidential Council appointed with him “must reorganize state institutions and ensure security”, until the elections, the United Nations said, since the fall of Muammad Gaddafi, the country has been in chaos since 2011.

Two officials are dying for power amid foreign interference: in the West, the U.N.-backed National Union Government (GNA in Tripoli) and the Turkish-backed authority, and an authority embodied by Khalifa Hafter, a powerful figure from the East, in particular Russia supported.

After meeting at an undisclosed location since Monday near Geneva, 75 members of Libya’s political dialogue forum voted in favor of Abdel Hamid Dabiba’s list with 39 out of 73 votes.

– 21 days –

This engineer, originally from Mishrata (North West), the founder of the Libyan al-Mostakbal movement, headed a Libyan investment and development company under the Gaddafi regime.

Mr Dabiba is an “influential businessman” and “quite controversial”, said Wolfram Lächter, a researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

His running mate Mohammad Yunus El-Menfi, originally from Cyrenaica (East), was elected president of the Interim President’s Council.

He will be supported by two vice presidents: Moussa al-Koni, a Tareg, and Abdullah Hussain al-Lafi, a deputy from Zoua (West).

“The result of the vote is a surprise because the main influential figures were in the second list,” Lachter said.

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Mr Dabiba’s list was actually an outsider compared to that of Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh and the powerful Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha.

These two officials nonetheless welcomed the vote, with the other saying on Twitter that “democracy was clearly material”.

In New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also welcomed “great news in our quest for peace”. “The elections that have been held now after the cease-fire are agreed show that Libya is moving in the right direction,” he said.

The head of GNA Fayez al-Sarraj, for his part, wished the new executive “success”.

In 2015, Prime Minister, Mr. Saraj has never been able to gain the trust of the erstwhile Parliament and assert his authority over all the political and military forces of the country.

In Tripoli, according to images posted on the social network, dozens of Libyans celebrated the defeat of Aguila Saleh, one of the leading men in the formerly anti-camp.

United Nations envoy Libya Stephanie Williams said the prime minister’s post would have to form her own cabinet “within a period of not more than 21 days”.

He said that he would have another 21 days to get a vote of confidence in Parliament, which would last till March 19.

“You have overcome your differences, your challenges (…) in the interest of your country and the people of Libya,” Ms Williams said.

Caution is required: Many agreements have been concluded in recent years but they have not been implemented. And even though this appointment is one step ahead, the prime minister-designation will have to claim its legitimacy on the ground with a myriad of political actors, some of whom have already distanced themselves from the Geneva negotiations.

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– “Amnesty” –

Following the failure of an invasion launched by Marshall Hafter to conquer Tripoli in April 2019, the two camps concluded a cease-fire in October and found a way to negotiate.

The UN Security Council on Thursday ordered Antonio Guterres to make a deployment of ceasefire observers in Libya.

Ms. Williams stressed the need to implement a cease-fire, saying that the government should specifically ensure the “departure of mercenaries and foreign forces”.

He further called on the new executive to “initiate a comprehensive process of national reconciliation based on the principles of transitional justice” and to “discover the truth and reassessment as well as to promote a culture of forgiveness and tolerance”.

The United States, Russia, Turkey, Italy, Egypt and Jordan welcomed the appointment of the new team.

The interactive dialogue was launched in Tunisia in November 2020, and its participants agreed to hold a “national” election on December 24, 2021.

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