Libya: Sarraj approves new ministers' list,including 3 women

Requests vote of confidence in Tobruk, but pro-Haftar side

16 February, 10:35

    (by Rodolfo Calò) (ANSAmed) - CAIRO, FEBRUARY 16 - Libya's premier designate, Fayez Al Sarraj, has approved a new list of ministers to give the country a national unity government and, after last month's rejection, can return to the Parliament of Tobruk for a vote of confidence opposed by backers of general Khalifa Haftar. The approval of the list with 13 ministers and five ministers of state late on Sunday in Skhirat, Morocco, was applauded by UN mediator, Martin Kobler, who said it represented an ''heroic opportunity for peace that should not be wasted''. The German diplomat, however, defined as ''crucial'' for the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk to ''back the government''.

    Expressing ''satisfaction'', Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said he hoped for a green light already ''in the coming days''.

    The posts of defense and interior ministers were confirmed for the two members who had already been designated for these crucial posts in the list approved on January 18, which was rejected a week later by HoR for being too long (32 names).

    The real issue was and remains the role to be attributed to general Haftar, commander of a more or less regular Libyan army in Tobruk. Sarraj suggested again the mediation represented by Al-Mahdi Ibrahim Al-Burghuthi, a military commander from the east who - though he is under Haftar - is well-liked by pro-Islamist militias in Tripoli. The position is also expressed by Al-Aref Saleh Al-Khouja, a former interior minister in Tripoli who was reconfirmed in the executive of ''national accord'' of Sarraj. Marwan Abusrewil was replaced at the foreign ministry by Mohamed al Taher Sayala, a former minister of cooperation during the last years of Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

    Three women have also been included in the government list, which was signed only by seven of the nine members of the presidential council led by Sarraj, the core of the incoming executive.

    The defections come from two well-known opponents who are pro-Haftar: Ali Qatrani, one of the two deputy premiers expressed by the east (Tobruk) and the pro-Zintan Omar Al-Aswad.

    Parliament speaker, Aqila Saleh, has invited Sarraj to take part in a session called this Tuesday to examine the ministers ''one by one'' but has warned that 40 MPs oppose ''a minister'' and are asking for a replacement before the meeting.

    Qatrani, who is also president of Parliament's defense commission, has hinted that the minister in question is Burghuthi (''a country who has an army chief needs a defense minister''). The opponent has declared that ''we will not allow'' Sarraj's presidential council, ''controlled by the Muslim Brothers'', to ''govern Libya''.

    A reason for embarrassment, as already occurred for the first list, were statements given by two incoming ministers (finance and the woman appointed to the ministry for ''Martyrs'' of the revolution) who said they were appointed unbeknownst to them or against their will. (ANSAmed).

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