Libyan National Assembly Elects New Prime Minister
Ali Zidan won 93 votes in the Libyan General National Congress to become prime minister on October 14. A career diplomat under Muammar Qadhafi, Zidan defected in 1980 to join the exiled opposition. Zidan made clear his intentions saying, “The security file will be my top most priority because all the problems that Libya suffers from stems from security issues. The government will be an emergency government to solve the crises that the country is going through.” Zidan aims to appoint a cabinet within the next two weeks and acknowledged the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood saying, “Islam is our belief system and the source for any jurisprudence, and anything against sharia is refused.”
Laurence Pope, U.S. envoy to Libya, declared his intention to succeed fallen Ambassador Chris Stevens. Pope said, “The United States remains deeply committed to supporting the aspirations of the Libyan people as they build a sovereign, stable and economically prosperous nation. We will continue on the path that Ambassador Stevens traced for us.” Pope indicated that his first meeting with Libya’s acting foreign minister Mohammed Abdel Aziz was positive saying, “We discussed strengthening the relationship between the United States and Libya, and our shared commitment to investigate the tragic events of September 11 in Benghazi.”
The U.S. has placed special forces units and drones on standby should investigators locate the group responsible for last month’s attacks in Benghazi. However, the Obama Administration faces a “dilemma in balancing its need to demonstrate it is responding forcefully to al-Qaeda…against its long-term plans to develop relationships and trust with local governments and build a permanent U.S. counter-terrorist network in the region.” Thus far the Administration has remained unclear on its preferred course of action.