Libya’s newly-elected prime minister failed to name members of a much-anticipated Cabinet ahead of an expected deadline on Thursday, raising questions over whether his transitional government can unite Libya’s factions.
Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was set to announce his Cabinet in a news conference from the capital, Tripoli, and send it to Libya’s House of Representatives for approval.
Instead, Dbeibah told reporters he only shared with Libyan legislators proposed guidelines for the selection of Cabinet members and a “vision” of his priorities in the coming period.
“We submitted today a proposition for a structure and a working vision of a national unity government along with the selection criteria for (that) team … to the speaker of Parliament,” Dbeibah told reporters in Tripoli on Thursday evening.
He said the submission was in line with the deadline set by a United Nations road map, which requires at least 30 percent of top government posts to be filled by women and young candidates.
He also told reporters the names of proposed ministers will be disclosed in Parliament during a vote of confidence for his lineup.
The UN-backed transitional road map envisages holding general elections in the war-torn North African country by the end of the year.
Since 2015, Libyan state institutions have been divided between two administrations: One in the east and another in the west, each supported by a vast array of militias and foreign governments.
“We are ready to submit the names (of Cabinet ministers) but we should consult among ourselves and examine candidate names meticulously,” Dbeibah told reporters in Tripoli without specifying when he will actually make the submission.
Dbeibah said he envisages a Cabinet of technocrats who would represent Libya’s different geographic areas and social segments.
“These are critical times and we are taking into consideration that the Cabinet must genuinely achieve national unity and seek consensus and reconciliation,” he said.
He added that the country’s sovereign ministerial portfolios should be equally divided between candidates from Libya’s three key geographic areas in the east, the west and the south.
Rough ride ahead
Earlier this month, Dbeibah was elected as prime minister by Libyan delegates at a UN-sponsored conference near Geneva.
Emadeddin Badi, an analyst at the Geneva-based Global Initiative, warns that Dbeibah faces a rough ride ahead.
While his appointment “temporarily” resulted in support across Libya, he told the AFP news agency, those left out “will undoubtedly mobilise to hinder support for his administration”.
The 75-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum also elected a three-member Presidential Council, which along with Dbeibah should lead the country through general elections on December 24.
Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country’s east, was selected as chairman of the council.
If approved, a new cabinet would replace a Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, and a parallel administration in eastern Libya backed by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
It faces the daunting challenge of addressing the grievances of Libyans, hit by a dire economic crisis, soaring unemployment, wretched public services and crippling inflation.