Libya's NTC unveils new government line-up

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) named a new government Tuesday with a line-up that dropped several seasoned officials in favor of appointees who will soothe rivalries between regional factions.

The NTC faced the tricky task of forming a government which would reconcile regional and ideological interests whose rivalry threatens to upset the country's fragile stability, three months after the end of Gaddafi's 42-year rule.

"All of Libya is represented," Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib told a news conference as he unveiled the line-up. "It is hard to say that any area is not represented."

Western countries, which backed the revolt against Gaddafi and have a big stake in seeing his replacements succeed, welcomed the new government, saying it would guide the oil exporting country toward democracy.

The NTC's choices to fill ministerial posts appeared to have put regional affiliation ahead of experience or a track record.

Foreign diplomats had been expecting the foreign minister's job to go to Libya's deputy envoy to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi.

A respected diplomat, he had rallied other Libyan officials to turn against Gaddafi soon after the revolt erupted against his rule.

Instead, the job was given to Ashour Bin Hayal, a little-known diplomat from the eastern city of Derna, a long-standing anti-Gaddafi stronghold.

"Until the prime minister made his announcement, every diplomat in Tripoli was expecting Dabbashi as foreign minister. It's a big surprise," said one diplomat. "We don't know him (Bin Hayal) at all. We are trying to find out where he is."

Ali Tarhouni, a U.S. academic who returned from exile to manage the oil and finance portfolios in the rebellion against Gaddafi, had no role in the new government.

Hassan Ziglam, an oil industry executive, was named as finance minister, and Abdulrahman Ben Yezza, a former executive with Italian oil major ENI, was made oil minister.

The new cabinet will include as defense minister Osama Al-Juwali, commander of the military council in the town of Zintan.

In a symbolic step for Libya, a deeply conservative Muslim society, the cabinet included two women, heading the ministries of health and social affairs. El-Keib said those appointments showed women enjoyed more equality than ever before.

Absent from any strategic jobs in the government were the Islamists who were persecuted under Gaddafi but have been gaining in power since his downfall. Their rise has worried secularist Libyans, and some neighboring countries.

(Source: Reuters)

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