Cabinet shake-up begins in Libya under new law

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Libya’s prime minister has nominated a new interior minister to fill the first spot vacated in his Cabinet, a consequence of a new law that bars officials who had served under late dictator Moammar Gadhafi from holding public office.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan picked Mohamed Khalifa Sheikh to replace Ashour Shuail, Libyan government sources said. Mr. Shuail served as police chief in the eastern city of Benghazi under Gadhafi.

The law, which the legislature approved on May 5, is expected to result in the resignations of the president of the General National Congress, dozens of lawmakers and a half-dozen Cabinet members.

“We are dealing with a law that is going to cause a lot of problems ahead,” Hassan El Amin, former chairman of Libya’s parliamentary human rights committee, said in a phone interview from Tunis. “My worry is once this law is activated, how are we going to replace all those people who are in middle management?”

The law is expected to put hundreds of thousands of Libyans out of work.

Heavily armed militias earlier this month surrounded government ministries in Tripoli, demanding that lawmakers pass the so-called political isolation law.

“Some members of the government and congress have militias behind them,” said Mr. El Amin, who fled to London in March saying that militias had threatened to kill him after he criticized their unchecked power. “How do you expect the government to disarm them?”

Mohamed al-Megariaf, president of Libya’s General National Congress, is expected to step down before the law comes into effect on June 6. He served as Libya’s ambassador to India at the time of his defection in the 1980s.

Defense Minister Mohamed Barghathi is among those who are expected to lose their job. He was commander of the air force in Benghazi before he retired in 1994.

The law bars anyone who held an official position from Sept. 1, 1969, when Gadhafi seized power, until the end of the revolution on Oct. 23, 2011. Gadhafi was killed by rebels on Oct. 20, 2011.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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