Libya Announces Revised Lineup for Unity Government

Photo Credit: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

After the initial lineup of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) was rejected last month, the UN-backed council – consisting of rival Libyan factions and headed by PM-designate Fayez Sarraj – announced a new lineup for an 18-member cabinet made up of thirteen ministers and five ministers-of-state. The previous cabinet consisted of 32 members and was derided in some circles as unwieldy. Sarraj told reporters that the latest nominations, many of whom differed from the initial proposal, took into account “experience, competence, geographical distribution, the political spectrum and the components of Libyan society.” Council member Fathi al-Majbari told reporters, “We hope that this will be the beginning of the end of the conflict in Libya.” UN Libya envoy Martin Kobler congratulated Libya and described the step as a “peace opportunity that should not be missed,” adding on Twitter post “The journey to peace and unity of the Libyan people has finally started.”

The Tobruk-based parliament has postponed its vote for the newly proposed GNA for one week. Many in the international community, including the United States, are hopeful that recognition of this government will be a large “step forward” in “ending the chaos in Libya.”

Analyst Anas El Gomati is less confident in the new proposal, suggesting to Al Jazaara that he is “quite pessimistic about this new development” because while the rhetoric denotes a largely anti-terror motivation, “most of the strategic fighting on the ground has been about resources: financial, military and other infrastructural resources around the country.” Many see this updated version of the GNA as still “reflective of the divisions in Libyan politics” and the “product of geo-tribal quota allocation” that will continue to struggle with regional factions.

The challenge to form a united national body in a nation with increasing geopolitical divisions has grown more difficult with the expanding threat of the Islamic State. According to Abid Alkasih, “ISIS took advantage of the chaos [in Libya] created by divisions. We need to first work on diminishing these divisions before addressing the symptom: ISIS.”

Others perceive the UN as the biggest impediment to establishing an effective GNA, arguing that its “failure to work with political forces on the ground to design administrations best suited to local traditions” and the political scandal with former UN envoy Bernardino Leon, diminished the UN’s credibility and caused it to play a “difficult hand badly.” Alkasih emphasized that Libya does not need international military help or third-party brokerage, but rather  that “the real work has to come from within. Libyans have to put their differences aside for a democratic, ISIS-free Libya.”