Libyan Parliament approves new transitional government

Libyan Parliament approves new transitional government
Atalayar_Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah

PHOTO/AP  -   Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah, during a press conference Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Tripoli, Libya

The government headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah will have the opportunity to begin the phase of political reconstruction that Libya has needed for so many years. The vote of confidence has been granted by the Parliament to the Executive elected at the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LDPF) organised in February in the Swiss city of Geneva. In this forum, promoted by the United Nations, 73 Libyan representatives from three different regions of the country elected what will be, at least until the elections scheduled for 24 December this year, the new government, which is expected to lay the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the Libyan state.

"This is a historic day for the House of Representatives," said Aguila Saleh, Speaker of the Libyan Parliament. Not least because it is the first government of national unity. This is the first government of national unity since 2011. After the fall of Muammar al-Gadaffi and the end of the civil war - with the intervention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) - chaos took over the streets of the country. The approval of the new government is therefore a key turning point in the country's history, allowing it to put a troubled history behind it.

The new government faces suspicions of bribery surrounding the election of Prime Minister Dbeibah, as well as controversy surrounding the choice of the defence portfolio. Parliament voted 132 votes in favour out of 134 MPs who have been meeting since Monday in the coastal city of Sirte. However, the executive is not yet complete as it has yet to allocate the defence portfolio, which, due to the still simmering conflict, is a headache for Abdul Hamid Dbeibah's executive.

Atalayar_Aguila Saleh
REUTERS/COSTAS BALTAS - The Speaker of Libya's Tobruk-based Parliament, Aguilah Saleh

There was even a request to postpone the meeting for a week due to a UN report pointing to Dbeibah's vote-buying. A group of 42 legislators called for the postponement, which was not granted. The Panel of Experts' controversial report is expected to be released in full in less than a week, as it has so far been kept confidential.

What was once one of the richest states on the continent - thanks to oil - was torn in two by the outbreak of war. The Tripoli government was the only one recognised by the UN and controlled the western half of the country. The eastern half was controlled by militias led by former Libyan Army Marshal Khalifa Hafter, with his base of operations in the city of Tobruk. The latter was supported by countries such as France, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Tripoli-based Hafter Hafter was supported by Italy, Qatar and Turkey. 

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PHOTO/REUTERS - The Libyan Parliament meets to discuss the approval of the new government, in Sirte, Libya, March 8, 2021

Tensions escalated over the past year. Hafter's forces launched an offensive in the spring of 2020 that fell just short of conquering Libya's current capital. In response, Turkey sent in soldiers, drones and a group of Syrian mercenaries that caused a complete turnaround in the conflict. What is more, forces loyal to the Tripoli government experienced a major expansion, managing to recapture a large part of the territory, including the city of Sirte - precisely where the new transitional government is now being voted in - located in the centre of the country.

Following the Turkish offensive, a ceasefire was declared in October last year. It was from then on that both sides decided to launch the peace process, the first fruit of which was the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, thanks to the fundamental mediation of the UN. Now, with the new government backed by the parliament's vote of confidence, a new path to peace is opening up, which Prime Minister Dbeibah highlighted after the vote: "I thank the parliament for giving confidence to this government. This is a historic moment. The war will not be repeated, and I ask the House of Representatives to seek unity in order to put these years of division and war behind us". He also stressed that, despite being a transitional government, the intention is to work from day one to improve the situation in Libya between now and the elections: "Our objectives will be to improve services to the population, unify state institutions and end this transitional period by calling elections".