Libya’s new interim PM takes oath to head government

Libya’s new interim PM takes oath to head government
Libya's interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah (4th R) attends a national conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, at a conference hall in the capital Tripoli, on March 13, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2021

Libya’s new interim PM takes oath to head government

Libya’s new interim PM takes oath to head government
  • Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was selected at UN-sponsored talks in February alongside interim presidency council
  • New administration expected to replace rival governments

TOBRUK: Libya’s new interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was sworn in Monday to lead the war-torn country’s transition to elections in December, after years of chaos and division.
The North African nation descended into conflict after dictator Muammar Qaddafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, resulting in multiple forces vying for power.
A United Nations-supervised process is aimed at uniting the country, building on an October cease-fire between rival administrations in the country’s east and west.
Dbeibah, selected at UN-sponsored talks in February alongside an interim three-member presidency council, will take the oath of office in the eastern city of Tobruk.
More than 1,000 kilometers (630 miles) from the capital Tripoli in the west, Tobruk has been the seat of Libya’s elected parliament since 2014.
Dbeibah’s swearing-in comes after parliament last week approved his cabinet, in a move hailed by key leaders and foreign powers as “historic.”
His government includes two deputy prime ministers, 26 ministers and six ministers of state, with the key foreign affairs and justice portfolios handed to women, a first in Libya.
“This will be the government of all Libyans,” Dbeibah said after the vote. “Libya is one and united.”
Dbeibah’s administration is expected to replace both the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and a parallel cabinet headquartered in the east, under the de facto control of forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Turkey has backed the GNA, while Haftar’s administration has drawn on support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.
Outgoing GNA head Fayez Al-Sarraj has said he is “fully ready to hand over” power, while Haftar last month offered “the support of the armed forces for the peace process.”
But the new executive faces daunting challenges to unify the country’s institutions, end a decade of fighting marked by international interference and prepare for elections on December 24.
The European Union last week warning it could sanction domestic or foreign “spoilers” who undermine peace efforts.
Dbeibah, 61, a wealthy businessman from the western port city of Misrata, once held posts under Qaddafi but has shown no clear ideological position.
During Qaddafi’s rule, Misrata underwent an industrial and economic boom, from which the Dbeibah family and many others profited.
Dbeibah is also known to be supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and is close to Turkey.
He holds a master’s degree from the University of Toronto in engineering, and his expertise introduced him to Qaddafi’s inner circle and led him to head a company managing huge construction projects.