Magharebia (Washington DC)

31 October 2012

Libya Government Formation Sparks Protest

Photo: Iason Foounten
Libyan demonstrators (file photo).

Benghazi — The government line-up stirred different reactions from the Libyan street, from raucous protests to voices of support.

Protesters stormed Libya's national assembly on Tuesday (October 30th), derailing a vote on a new cabinet line-up, AFP reported.

Speaker Mohamed Magarief suggested that the assembly reconvene on Wednesday for a new attempt to vote on the minister list offered by Prime Minister Ali Zidan.

As he adjourned the session amid chaotic scenes, Magarief angrily denounced a situation he said was "out of control".

For his part, Zidan told the congress that he had taken "the geographic" factor into consideration while naming new ministers.

"No region has been favoured over any other, the whole nation has been favoured," he said.

Zidan created two new ministries in his government - the Ministry for General National Congress Affairs and the Ministry for Wounded People.

He picked Sadiq Abdulkarim Abdulrahman as deputy prime minister. Ambassador to the US Ali Suleiman Aujali was named Minister of Foreign Affairs. The prime minister appointed Mohamed Mahmoud Mousa al-Barghati as defence minister and Ashour Saleh Suleiman Shuwail in charge of the interior affairs.

Abdulbari Ali al-Hadi al-Arusi was put in charge of the oil portfolio and Mustafa Mohamed Abufunas at the helm of the economy ministry.

The government line-up stirred different reactions from the Libyan street, from protests to voices of support.

"I liked the new government formation; he has put the right person at the right place," Moussa Ali, a teacher from Derna, said. "I wish them success and hope they will be given the opportunity to offer the best."

"The new government formation is somewhat reasonable," said Ala Kafu, official spokesperson for al-Qema Party in Tripoli.

One source of controversy is the lack of an information ministry in the proposed government.

Kafu argued that it is a positive development.

"However, there must be a union for journalists to develop a code of ethics for the media. No to controlled media; culture is free, media is free, and civil society is free," he argued.

But Benghazi resident Saleh al-Osheibi had a different view. "How can a state succeed without an information ministry?" he wondered. "The media can influence people's minds and culture, and hadn't it been for the media, our revolution wouldn't have succeeded in the first place. How did this happen? And how can they exclude the media?"

"As a simple citizen, I accept Zidan's government formation although the Muslim Brotherhood got the defence ministry," said graduate student Khansaa Daghman. "However, we're not at a stage that would give us the luxury of choice. Whatever the damage this government may do will be less harmful than the damage of chaos and the vacuum we are now in."

"Therefore, I ask our General National Congress to let it go through and work," Daghman said.

Teacher Iman Muftah said that "the revolution is not over yet".

"If Libyans are keen on reaching their dream about building a democratic state, they have to rise up to protect their experience against mobs and ignoramuses," Muftah said. "Didn't every Libyan choose those who represent him/her in the General National Congress? Weren't they given the right to object and appeal the election results? Why then do they insist on intervening in the debates of this Congress (with all of its negative and positive points)?"

"Exactly like those mobs and ignoramuses call for storming the General National Congress, we should rise up to protect the hall and protect democracy; otherwise, demagoguery and chaos will prevail, and the dream for which you offered souls and blood will be lost," she said.

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