Behind the scenes and forecasts

Libyan prime minister Ali Zidan forms government

November  05, 2012 - 04:20 PM

Libyan prime minister Ali Zidan forms government

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan.


Libya’s new prime minister Ali Zidan presented his 32-member cabinet to the General National Congress on October 30, following his appointment on October 14. Congress approved the new cabinet on Wednesday October 31 by 105 votes in favor out of the 132 members present in the 200-seat chamber. The decision follows three weeks of confusion after Congress, which was elected last July, removed Mustafa Abushagur as prime minister after one month because he proved unable to form a government.


The composition of the new government

Most of the new ministers belong to the two strongest parties in Congress – the Justice and Construction Party (political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the liberal National Forces Alliance – while the remainder are independents.

Given the serious regional tensions in Libya, Zidan has aimed to strike a geographical balance among his 30 ministers.

The new cabinet includes:

- Abdelbari al Arusi, Minister for Oil: born in Zawiyah, a graduate in chemical engineering from Tripoli University, with a master’s degree from London in corrosion prevention, he has worked in various Libyan oil companies including Agoco.

- Ali Aujali, Foreign Minister: a career diplomat, he was previously ambassador to Washington.

- Mohammed al Barghathi, Minister of Defense: having joined Libya’s air force aged 18, he trained in the United States at the American Air Force Academy. Having returned to Libya he rose up the ranks, eventually becoming Chief of the Air Force General Staff.

- Ashur Suliman Shwaial, Interior Minister: a graduate in law from Bengasi, he followed that with a master’s in the same subject in Egypt, and has since spent his entire career in the police.

- Kilani Abdul Karim al Jazi, Finance Minister: a graduate in Business & Administration from Bengasi, he lectured for many years at the university before spending the last 15 years in banking.

- Salah Bashir Margani, Justice Minister: a law graduate from Bengasi with a master’s in law from London, his whole career has been dedicated to country’s justice ministry and its magistracy.


Zidan's speech

After Congress had approved his government, Zidan made a televised speech to the nation in which he said: “This is the start of the State and of the construction of democracy. This will be a government of all Libyans. The Libyan people will never be excluded from matters that affect them.‘ Zidan also said he held deep talks with “genuine revolutionary combatants‘ before choosing his government. He also emphasized the need for “new blood‘ in the army and police, as he seeks to reform and rebuild the country’s armed forces. Turning to health, Zidan said he will do everything to improve the situation in Libya and reduce the need to travel abroad for medical treatment.


Criticisms of the Zidan government

Omar Humidan, the spokesman for Congress, has summed up the criticisms of Zidan’s new government, saying: “There are objections to some of the ministers, but we do not want to get in the way of the government while it does its work. Even though I have a few personal reservations I do hope the government is successful, because it has been chosen democratically.‘


Prime minister Zidan

Ali Zidan is a former diplomat who turned against Gheddafi in 1980 while working at the Libyan Embassy in India, becoming one of the most outspoken critics of the regime. Thereafter, he founded and led the National Front for the Salvation of Libya – one of the strongest rebel groups opposing the regime. During that time he also worked as a lawyer in Germany and in Geneva, as an expert on the defense of human rights. The new government replaces the transitional government of Abdel Harim al Kib, which had been in power since November 2011. Zidan has a 12-month mandate during which he will have to organize a new general election to be held under constitutional rules still to be drawn up by Congress. Zidan is tasked with governing the country while Congress takes care of legislation and writing the draft constitution, which must then be approved by referendum.

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