Situation in Libya

Libyan delegates select Mohamed Menfi as interim president

APA – Libyan delegates in Geneva chose Mohamed Menfi to head the Presidency Council of a new interim government and Abdul Hamid Dbeibah as its prime minister, APA reports citing the National News.

Musa Al Koni and Abdullah Al Lafi were also voted into the three-man Presidency Council, in what was perhaps a surprising result that saw some of Libya’s most prominent politicians fall by the wayside.

The UN-backed vote to choose a Libyan interim government had gone to a run-off on Friday after none of the four candidate lists won enough support to secure outright victory

The selection of an interim government is part of a UN peace process aimed at holding presidential and parliamentary elections in December. Libya has been mired in conflict after an uprising that led to the overthrow and death of dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Control of the country has been divided between a UN-recognised government in the west and an elected House of Representatives based in the east.

The run-off vote was between the list featuring Mr Menfi and Mr Dbeibah and a list with eastern-based parliament chief Aguila Saleh as head of the presidency council and western-based interior minister Fathi Bashagha as premier, which won most the votes in the first vote.

All candidates for the new government have undertaken to hold national presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24 in which they will not stand for office, and to appoint women to 30 per cent of senior government roles.

The United Nations publicly broadcast images of their signed pledges.

UN acting Libya envoy Stephanie Williams said the four competing lists formed among candidates on Thursday were diverse and represented Libya’s potential.

However, some Libyans have been critical of a process which they view as being managed from abroad and which they fear will allow existing powermongers to cling to their influence.

“It’s just a painkiller to portray Libya as stable for a while. But war and tension will certainly come back sooner or later so long as militias have power,” Abdulatif Al Zorgani, a 45-year old state employee in Tripoli, told Reuters. The latest UN process emerged from a Berlin conference last year and gathered pace in the autumn after military commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based forces were pushed back from a 14-month assault on Tripoli.

It has also involved a military ceasefire but not all the terms of the ceasefire have been met, a sign of continued mistrust on both sides and internal fractures within both camps.

Many factions in the country afraid to surrender influence they already hold, and with foreign powers invested in local allies, the new government may rapidly come under pressure.

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