| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

Libya’s new Government of National Unity takes oath of office in Tobruk ceremony

Libya’s new interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah attended the swearing in of the new unity government in Tripoli on Monday afternoon. Ministers of the new cabinet also attended the ceremony.

Mr Dbeibah will lead the war-torn country’s transition to elections in December, after years of chaos and division.

The North African nation descended into conflict after dictator Muammar Qaddafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, resulting in multiple forces vying for power.

A United Nations-supervised process is aimed at uniting the country, building on an October ceasefire between rival administrations in the country’s east and west.

Mr Dbeibah was selected at UN-sponsored talks in February alongside an interim three-member presidency council; all will take the oath of office in the eastern city of Tobruk.

More than 1,000 kilometres from the capital Tripoli in the West, Tobruk has been the seat of Libya’s elected parliament since 2014.

Mr Dbeibah’s swearing-in comes after parliament last week approved his cabinet, in a move hailed by key leaders and foreign powers as “historic”.

His government includes two deputy prime ministers, 26 ministers and six ministers of state, with the key foreign affairs and justice portfolios handed to women, a first in Libya.

“This will be the government of all Libyans,” Mr Dbeibah said after the vote. “Libya is one and united.”

Mr Dbeibah’s administration is expected to replace both the UN-recognised Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and a parallel cabinet headquartered in the east, under the de facto control of forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Turkey has backed the GNA, while Gen Haftar’s administration has drawn on support from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia.

Outgoing GNA head Fayez Al Sarraj has said he is “fully ready to hand over” power, while Gen Haftar last month offered “the support of the armed forces for the peace process.”

But the new executive faces daunting challenges to unify the country’s institutions, end a decade of fighting marked by international interference and prepare for elections on December 24.

The European Union last week warning it could sanction domestic or foreign “spoilers” who undermine peace efforts.

Mr Dbeibah was considered an outsider compared to other candidates vying for the job, and his election process has been marred by allegations of vote-buying.

But Mr Dbeibah jumped into his role even before his inauguration, including pledging to combat the coronavirus crisis, and taking anti-corruption measures by freezing state-owned investment funds.