Libya MPs postpone vote on new unity government

Libya’s internationally recognised parliament decided Tuesday to postpone for seven days a vote on a government of national unity despite growing international concern over Islamist militant expansion.

“One hundred and eighteen members of parliament met today and decided to give the government chief until Saturday to present his cabinet line-up” to MPs, parliamentarian Aicha al-Aqouri told AFP.

“The new smaller government will then be submitted to a vote of confidence on Tuesday,” she said.

Another MP, Abou Bakr Baida, confirmed this timetable to AFP.

International attempts to end the chaos in Libya took a step forward on Monday as the new national unity government was proposed to lawmakers.

Approval of the 18-minister cabinet — headed by prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj — would be a vital step in resolving Libya’s political disarray, capping off months of difficult diplomacy.

The so-called Presidency Council, tasked under the peace effort with forming the government, revised the line-up downwards after parliament rejected a 32-member cabinet as too large.

The Presidency Council has nine members from the various Libyan factions and is led by Sarraj.

Washington, Europe and many African countries hope the new administration, if confirmed by parliament, will restore a central government and end the chaos that has reigned in Libya since the fall of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

It has also become an increasingly important haven for the Islamic State militant group just across the Mediterranean from Europe.

Oil-rich Libya has had rival administrations since the summer of 2014.

The internationally recognised government is based in the far east of the country, having fled Tripoli after a militia alliance including Islamists overran the capital in August that year.

The alliance has established its own administration and parliament called the General National Congress.

A vote on the revised cabinet line-up had initially been due on Monday evening, but parliament was adjourned as some MPs expressed displeasure at having to decide so quickly, knowing little about the proposed ministers.

They asked that Sarraj appear before them before holding a vote of confidence on his cabinet.

UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler has urged members of the House of Representatives (HoR) to stand behind the new administration.

“The journey to peace and unity of the Libyan people has finally started,” he wrote on Twitter.

“It is crucial now that HoR endorses the government of national unity. It’s a unique peace opportunity that must not be missed.”

Libya, a country of six million people, on Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the start of its 2011 revolution that toppled Gaddafi’s regime.


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