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November 21, 2011

Libya to Name New Transitional Government

Libya’s transitional Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib is preparing to name a new cabinet that will govern until next year, when it plans to hold the country's first elections since the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in August.

Keib is expected to name the ministers of his government on Tuesday. Speaking Monday, he said he tried to pick people who are competent and representative of all Libyan regions. The prime minister made the comments in Tripoli at a joint news conference with visiting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.

One challenge facing Libya's new transitional government is how to ensure fair trials for Gadhafi's two most wanted aides, his son Seif al-Islam and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi. Libyan revolutionary fighters captured the men in separate raids in the country's southern desert on Saturday and Sunday.

Libyan officials have called for Seif al-Islam and Al-Senoussi to be tried inside Libya for their roles in a violent crackdown by Gadhafi forces on this year's Libyan uprising. But, international rights groups say the two men would not get fair trials in Libya and instead should be sent to the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court, where they face charges of crimes against humanity in connection with the crackdown.

Libya lacks an established judicial system after 42-years of rule by Gadhafi, who deliberately kept state institutions weak.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo arrived in Tripoli on Tuesday for talks with Libyan authorities about the fate of Seif al-Islam and Al-Senoussi. In a statement, he said both men "must face justice."

Moreno-Ocampo said he will seek information about Libya's proposal to organize domestic trials to determine whether the ICC should proceed with its own case against the men. The U.N. Security Council authorized the ICC to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya earlier this year, but the tribunal can only prosecute alleged perpetrators if a country itself is unwilling or unable to do so.

A Libyan militia that captured Seif al-Islam has said it will hold him in the western town of Zintan until Libyan authorities and the ICC agree on trial arrangements.

U.S. envoy Rice told the Tripoli news conference that Libya's friends and neighbors must respect the country's sovereignty when considering the issue of where to hold the trials.

"Neither we nor anyone else near or far can impose our will or our interests on the government of Libya, but rather we will be partners that respond first and foremost to your interests and your needs," stated Rice.

U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland called on Libyan authorities to deal with all prisoners humanely.

"We have in general terms and now in very specific terms with regard to Seif appealed to all parties in Libya to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners in their custody and to ensure that independent monitors have access to him and to prepare a judicial process that meets international standards," said Nuland.

Gadhafi was killed in October as transitional forces took control of his hometown of Sirte.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.