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Libya Swears In New Cabinet

  • Edward Yeranian

FILE - Libya's Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni (L) speaks to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 10, 2014.

FILE - Libya's Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni (L) speaks to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Sept. 10, 2014.

The new interim Libyan government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani was sworn in by the Libyan parliament Sunday in the eastern city of Tobruk. The Islamist militia coalition that controls the capital Tripoli refuses to recognize al-Thani and supports its own government.

The swearing-in ceremony was brief and Prime Minister al-Thani vowed to preserve the independence of the country, defend its security, and respect the constitution and the law. He promised to uphold the interests of the people and to defend the principles and goals of the February 17th Revolution.

Al-Thani's cabinet was small, with just under a dozen ministers. Libyan political leaders dubbed the new cabinet an “interim crisis government.” The Islamist Fajr militia coalition, which controls the capital Tripoli, says it supports its own government which has yet to be officially sworn in.

Aqelah Salah, who heads the internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk, told lawmakers that the new government would work to build a strong state, to preserve peace and stability, to defend the people's interests and to guarantee public services including health and education.

Arab satellite channels reported Libyan political leaders have been invited to a national dialogue session Monday, under the auspices of the United Nations. It was not immediately clear, however, if all political groups were planning to attend.

Ahmed al-Atrash, who teaches politics and international relations at the University of Tripoli, tells VOA it is important for all factions to attend the national dialogue session.

"I think it's better to sit and negotiate and get a way out of this. We now have two parliaments, two governments, even though one is recognized by the international community and one government, Tobruk, but on the ground we need to listen to each other and bring everyone to the negotiating table," al-Atrash said. "I'm not pessimistic about it. I'm optimistic."

Despite recent bouts of fighting, both in the capital Tripoli and the eastern capital of Benghazi, the situation on the ground, argues al-Atrash, is “getting back to normal.”

"I'm speaking from Tripoli, from the heart of Tripoli. People are going to work normally," al-Atrash said. "Life is getting back to normal. The streets are full of people and the Eid is approaching and people are prepar(ing) for the Eid."

Al Arabiya TV reported, however, that fighting took place in the Tripoli suburb of Fashaloun, and that Islamist militiamen fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at their opponents. Amateur video showed plumes of smoke rising from rocket strikes and the noisy clatter of shells falling.

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