News / Middle East

    Proposed Libyan Unity Government Faces Harsh Scrutiny by Parliament

    FILE - Libyan prime minister-designate under a proposed national unity government, Fayez Saraj, attends a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, Jan. 8, 2016.
    FILE - Libyan prime minister-designate under a proposed national unity government, Fayez Saraj, attends a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, Jan. 8, 2016.
    Edward Yeranian

    The ball is now in the court of Libya's internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk to approve or vote down a newly named 18-member government.

    Arab media reported “tensions” during a parliament debate Monday on whether to approve the government proposed by Prime Minister-designate Fayez Saraj.

    He insists the new 18-member Cabinet is “broadly based,” though it is smaller than a 32-minister panel voted down by parliament last month.

    Saraj says the new ministerial council is composed of 13 ministers with portfolios and five ministers of state.

    Fathi al Majbari, who belongs to the “presidential council” named in last year's national unity agreement, stressed the new government must put an end to turmoil in the country. He says the Cabinet will represent a new beginning for Libya and an end to conflict, so that all Libyans can unite their efforts to battle the country's sole enemy, terrorism.

    Al Arabiya TV reported a parliamentary meeting Monday in Tobruk broke up before coming to any decision on whether to approve the government.  Several members of the new unity Cabinet were reported to be considering withdrawing their names.

    Political scientist Ghazi Maqala told Libyan TV it is not at all clear whether the parliament in Tobruk will approve the new government. He says that parliament appears to be divided and chances are 50-50 of it approving the Cabinet.  But he stressed that voting down the government could lead to unexpected consequences.

    Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA the new government was not extremely solid.

    “It is the product of compromise,” he said, “cobbled together using the least common denominator. Many of its members,” he argues, “come from the old regime and run the risk of being voted down by parliament.”

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