Libyan lawmakers confirm interim unity government

World

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Libyan lawmakers confirmed a newly appointed government on Wednesday, in the hopes it will help unify the divided, war-wrecked North African country, and shepherd it through to elections at the end of the year.

The government of Prime Minister designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah replaces two rival administrations — one based in the East and another in the West — that have been ruling Libya for years.

“This a historic day for the House Representatives,” declared Speaker Aguila Saleh at the end of the vote.

Saleh said 132 lawmakers approved Dbeibah’s government, which has a mandate that lasts until elections are held on Dec. 24, according to a U.N.-brokered roadmap.

The vote came after two days of deliberations in the coastal city of Sirte. The confirmation came after Dbeibah last week presented his proposed Cabinet to Speaker Aguila Saleh.

“Congratulations on the formation of an interim unity government to set the stage for elections in December,” tweeted The U.S. Ambassador in Libya Richard Norland.

Dbeibah, a powerful businessman from the western city of Misrata, was appointed last month to lead the executive branch of an interim government that also includes a three-member Presidential Council chaired by Mohammad Younes Menfi, a Libyan diplomat from the country’s east.

Dbeibah’s proposed Cabinet includes 33 ministers and two deputy prime ministers who he said are representative of Libya’s different geographic areas and social segments.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The country has been divided between two governments, one in the east and another in the west, each backed by a vast array of militias as well as foreign powers.

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