Political pressure on Libyan Prime Minister-designate Abdulhamid Dbeibeh has forced him to come up with two cabinet lineups.
The first will be comprised of 24 to 26 ministers. Should it be rejected, he will propose a government of technocrats that will be limited to 15 portfolios.
Informed sources, including some of his aides, told Asharq Al-Awsat that women will make up a third of the new government. It will also not include any loyalists to the Muslim Brotherhood or its political branch, the Justice and Construction Party, or any lawmakers or members of the Government of National Accord (GNA).
This means that GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha will not retain his position in the new cabinet. Dbeibeh is likely to name himself defense minister, following the lead of GNA chief, Fayez al-Sarraj, who also holds that portfolio.
Lamia Abusedra is highly tipped to be named foreign minister. Abusedra is a former official in the al-Watan party led by Abdelhakim Belhaj, the ex-commander of the now defunct militant Islamic Fighting Group.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an aide to Dbeibeh told Asharq Al-Awsat that the delay in unveiling the cabinet is due to “significant” pressure he is coming under from some MPs. He revealed that the lawmakers are seeking to obtain government portfolios or administrative positions for themselves or their relatives and acquaintances.
Meanwhile, High Council of State head, Khalid al-Mishri said on Monday that Dbeibeh had informed the body that he needed two and a half years to complete the government roadmap, which would force him to delay the December elections.
To avoid such a fate, he has demanded that the roadmap be amended or that the elections be held on time.
Mishri added that some 11 or 13 lawmakers have demanded that Dbeibeh grant them sovereign ministries in cabinet, including the defense and interior portfolios and the position of head of intelligence.
Meanwhile, allegations that members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum had received bribes to elect Dbeibeh continued to reverberate in the country. At least three participants in UN-led Libya peace talks were bribed for votes, experts from the world body found in a report for the Security Council.
Speaker of the east-based parliament Aguila Saleh said Tuesday that the session to grant confidence to the cabinet should be postponed while officials study the report.
The session is set for Monday.
Saleh said vote-buying is a “crime that cannot be ignored.”
He joined 24 lawmakers who have called for the postponement of the parliament session.
Commenting on the UN expert panel report, the UN Support Mission in Libya said the Panel of Experts (PoE) is a separate entity, completely independent from UNSMIL.
“The PoE provides its report to the Security Council Sanctions Committee. The Mission further stresses that it does not receive the reports of the PoE including its latest report, and it is therefore not in a position to comment on it. Any questions in this regard should be addressed to the Sanctions Committee,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.
The UNSMIL and its partners “strongly encourage” the parliament to meet as scheduled On March 8 to discuss and consider the vote of confidence to the cabinet to be proposed by Dbeibeh, it added.
They encourage the PM-designate to present the lineup “without further delay”.
“This call comes in line with the increasing public demand for the urgent need to form a unified government to address the most pressing needs and facilitate the holding of national elections in December 2021,” it added.