Libya PM withdraws proposed cabinet list

Mustafa Abushagur says he is ready to change nominations after protesters stormed national assembly over line-up.

Abushagur's decision to withdraw his initial nominations is likely to be seen as an attempt to keep political stability [EPA]

Libya’s prime minister-elect has withdrawn his proposed government list, just a day after presenting it to the national congress for approval.

Mustafa Abushagur said on Friday he was ready to change some of his nominations in his proposed line-up which excluded the biggest party in congress, the liberal National Forces Alliance (NFA), after protesters stormed the national assembly and politicians voiced discontent over his nominations.

“I have asked the congress leader to withdraw my proposed government list and I will submit new nominations on Sunday,” he said.

“This new government should help build the state. Its members should have the right experience and be courageous.”

Mohammed Magarief, Libyan congress leader, had earlier said that the assembly did not approve of the proposed cabinet line-up.

Abushagur’s decision to withdraw his initial nomination is likely to be seen as a strategic retreat and as an attempt to help keep political stability.

“I thought the congress would discuss this list and give me their opinions,” Abushagur said. “When I presented my list yesterday some congress members just left the hall … It is the prime minister’s right to pick the government.”

Earlier on Thursday, protesters who believed their town was under-represented in the proposed government stormed the national assembly as it prepared to scrutinise the list.

Between 100 and 150 demonstrators from the western town of Zawiyah walked into the hall where congress meets, forcing the cancellation of a session meant to study the nominations. The session was postponed until later in the evening.

“After we heard the list, everyone in Zawiyah was angry. Some even began protesting in Zawiyah’s main square last night,” said Nuri Shambi, who travelled 50 km (30 miles) to the capital Tripoli to voice his anger.

“Abushagur said he would form a coalition government, that he would look at experience. Zawiyah proposed candidates for oil minister, but he’s brought in someone who is not well known.”

Abushagur’s line-up included many unknown names, including the proposed oil minister, Mabrouk Issa Abu Harroura.

While Abushagur says he is politically “neutral”, the line-up is said to have included several members of the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ibrahim al-Gharyani, head of the NFA in congress, said there were no candidates from his alliance, the biggest party in the chamber.

Congress spokesman Omar Hmaidan said several congress members had voiced dissatisfaction with the nominations.

“We need a political government. Many of these people are not known,” congress member Mohammed Saleem said.
Another congress member echoed that, adding: “Those who are known to us have little experience.”

The NFA’s leader, wartime rebel Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, lost out narrowly to Abushagur in the congress vote for the next head of government on Sept. 12.

Although the NFA is the biggest political grouping with 39 out of the 80 party seats in the assembly, another 120 seats are in the hands of independents.

The NFA had asked in vain for nine ministries and the inclusion of its programme in the next government.

NFA Spokesman Hamuda Siala said it would support Abushagur’s cabinet “as long as it aims to serve Libya’s national interest, improve security and boost development”.

Abushagur’s transitional government will take over from an interim administration appointed last November in which he was deputy prime minister.

He had picked three deputy prime ministers from the western mountain town of Zintan, from the south and from the east in an attempt to ensure broad geographical representation.

Source: News Agencies