Libyan lawmakers confirm interim unity government

BENGHAZI, LIBYA (AP) — Libyan lawmakers confirmed a newly appointed interim 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.

“This is a historic day,” declared parliament speaker Aguila Saleh at the end of the voting session that took place amid international pressure on Libya’s stakeholders to support a roadmap brokered in a United Nations (UN)-led process late last year.

He said 132 lawmakers approved the government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, which replaces two rival administrations — one based in the country’s east and another in the west — that have been ruling Libya for years.

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.

Their appointment caped months of UN-brokered multi-track talks that set a political roadmap to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on December 24, a date Dbeibah pledged to respect following his confirmation.

Libyan Prime Minister-designate Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah. PHOTO: AP

He also vowed to avoid having a repeat of war and infighting in Libya. “The war should not be repeated. We should not kill each other again,” he told lawmakers.

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.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the endorsement of the interim government, calling it “an important step towards restoring unity, stability, security and prosperity in Libya”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“Libya has now a genuine opportunity to move forward towards, unity, stability, prosperity, reconciliation and to restore fully its sovereignty,” said the UN mission in Libya.