One day after Libya’s top lawmaker appeared to back down – under criticism from fundamentalists – over the need for a secular state, the country’s prime minister-elect on Wednesday submitted a cabinet that does not include a single member of the country’s pro-Western liberal coalition.
The proposed cabinet could still change as lawmakers consider each nomination on Thursday, but the 28 names put forward by Prime Minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur thus far exclude any from the National Forces Alliance (NFA), a liberal coalition headed by former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril. There is also only one woman among the nominees: Summaya Mahmoud Baltief is proposed as social affairs minister.
The proposed ministers include several from the Muslim Brotherhood, which operates in Libya under the name Justice and Construction Party (sometimes translated as Justice and Development Party).
The NFA was by far the most popular party in legislative elections last July, winning 48 percent of the vote and taking 39 seats in the General National Congress (GNC), Libya’s parliament. In second place was the Muslim Brotherhood party, taking 10.3 percent of the vote and 17 GNC seats.
Why his proposed cabinet includes no NFA members was not immediately clear. The English-language Tripoli Post
reported earlier this week that a meeting Monday between Abushagur and Jibril ended with an agreement that the NFA would get three portfolios, including possibly the coveted post of foreign minister.
The list submitted to the GNC Wednesday did not include a foreign minister, and the independent online Libya Herald
reported that the post would be held by Abushagur for the meantime.
The Obama administration last year played down concerns about shari’a
forming the basis of new constitutions in Libya and other “Arab spring” countries, with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stating that the term shari’a
“has a broad application and is understood differently in different places and by different commentators.”
“We’ve seen various Islamic-based democracies wrestle with the issue of establishing rule of law within an appropriate cultural context,” she told a briefing last October, in response to questions about Libya.
“But the number one thing is that universal human rights, rights for women, rights for minorities, right to due process, right to transparency be fully respected.”