Libya’s national parliament on Wednesday, March 10, voted to confirm the interim unity government headed by prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah following two days of debate in the city of Sirte in central Libya. 121 of the 132 members of the Libyan House of Representatives voted in favor of the transitional government of national unity which was agreed upon during the talks held last month in Geneva, Switzerland, between the various Libyan warring sides and political factions.
The interim government is to administer the country until the national elections scheduled for later this year on December 24 – another key agreement reached between the various stakeholders during the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) talks. The new administration replaces the two major rival governments that have been ruling parts of Libya during the civil war. These are the eastern-based House of Representatives backed by rebel military general Khalifa Haftar and the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the west. The new government is expected to address urgent issues like high unemployment, inadequate public services, and a rapidly deteriorating economy.
After his government was approved, prime minister Dbeibah in a statement welcoming the development said, “through this vote, it became clear that the Libyans are one unit.” He asked Libyans to “open your hearts to one another and forget the grudges.” He also promised to work towards the expulsion of more than 20,000 foreign mercenaries and fighters still present in the country and added that he would demand the United Nations and their home countries to take them back. Calling the foreign fighters a “stab in our back” responsible for “violating Libya’s sovereignty,” Dbeibah called for parliamentary unity to expel them and end the six-year-long civil war.
Libya has been embroiled in an intense conflict since 2011 when a NATO-led invasion toppled the government of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, resulting in the country descending into chaos and infighting. The power vacuum also led to the arrival and growth of extremist and terrorist groups. Interference in the Libyan civil war by countries like Turkey and Egypt sowed even more division and increased violence among the warring factions.
The UN-brokered peace talks have contributed to the declaration of a ceasefire, election of the interim prime minister and a three-member presidential council.