Libya’s designated interim prime minister has given the country’s divided parliament a list of cabinet names, he said on Thursday, as it prepares for a possible meeting in a frontline city on Monday to debate a new unity government.
Abdulhamid Dbeibeh was chosen to lead the new government last month via a UN process aimed at uniting Libya behind a single authority that will oversee the run-up to a national election in December.
The cabinet list has been subject to intense negotiation among bitterly divided factions and politicians. Dbeibeh did not announce the names he has submitted to the House of Representatives, as the parliament is known.
Dbeibeh’s aides told Asharq Al-Awsat that the cabinet will be formed of 26 ministers at most, including six women.
Libya has been split for years between the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east, where military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) holds sway.
The parliament meeting to discuss Dbeibeh’s cabinet is expected to be in Sirte, a central coastal city held by the LNA near to where frontlines stabilized when its assault on Tripoli failed last year.
However, the parliament, which is based in Tobruk in the east, has been split since it was elected in 2014 with some members boycotting from the start and others breaking off in 2019.
Some eastern-based members have said they should not meet to debate the proposed cabinet until the UN releases a report by a panel of experts into allegations of corruption in the process to select Dbeibeh.
He was elected in Geneva at a meeting of 75 Libyans chosen by the United Nations.
Some of the western-based members have rejected a meeting in Sirte, citing the continued presence there of “foreign” mercenaries.
The main coast road linking east and west Libya is still closed. However, the LNA said work to remove landmines has been carried out and it expects it to reopen on Saturday.
Western-based parliament member Mohammed al-Rayed said he also expected it to reopen on Saturday and for the meeting to take place in Sirte.
If the parliament does not ratify Dbeibeh’s cabinet, the UN talks participants have said they can do so instead. However, that would risk undermining the interim government’s legitimacy.
On Thursday, the UN said it had sent a small advance team to Sirte to help a committee drawn from the warring sides to monitor the ceasefire.