Libyan parliament approves new Cabinet

Libyan parliament approves new Cabinet

Government faces daunting task of imposing control over armed groups across the country

Libyan revolutionary fighters load their machine gun during an attack against pro-Gadhafi forces in 2011. (photo credit: AP/Bela Szandelszky)
Libyan revolutionary fighters load their machine gun during an attack against pro-Gadhafi forces in 2011. (photo credit: AP/Bela Szandelszky)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya’s parliament on Wednesday approved the country’s new Cabinet in a vote of confidence, parliament spokesman said, but some ministers will get a second look.

Omar Humidan said five of the 27 ministers would be reconsidered after concerns were raised over their ties to the deposed regime of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The vote was 105 in favor, nine against and 18 abstentions.

The new Cabinet faces the daunting task of imposing control over armed groups, mostly former rebel fighters who defeated Gadhafi’s forces during last year’s eight-month civil war. The government must also build state institutions such as the judiciary, police and military from scratch, and rebuild cities and towns destroyed during the conflict.

Protesters disrupted Wednesday’s session for a second day in a row, complaining about the makeup of the Cabinet. Unlike the day before, security forces firing rifles in the air kept the protesters out of the building Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan said he tried to strike a geographical balance in the new Cabinet.

A year after the overthrow and death of 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.

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.

The new Cabinet has two women, one as social affairs minister and the other as tourism minister. The key posts of defense minister and interior minister went to representatives of the eastern city of Benghazi, where the revolt against Gadhafi begin. Also, the Cabinet has three ministers from the western city of Misrata and one from Zawiya.

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

Fabius said Libya “can count on the support of France” and that France seeks an “ambitious and durable partnership” with Libya. Fabius said he will go to Tripoli “very soon” to show support for the new government. France was among the first Western countries to support Libya’s revolution.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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