Libya’s transitional leaders have named a new Cabinet and have vowed to step down after the country is secured, a move designed to show the North African nation is moving on even though fighting persists and Muammar Qadhafi remains at large.
The announcement on Monday was made jointly by the head of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, and de facto Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril in a news conference following weeks of political infighting and delays over the formation of a new government.
In the end, the Cabinet line-up did not contain many changes, prompting many Libyans to question why it took so long, coming about six weeks after revolutionary forces seized the capital, Tripoli, and forced Mr. Qadhafi into hiding.
Mr. Jibril, who graduated from and taught strategic planning at the University of Pittsburgh for several years, remains in his position but also takes over as foreign minister, meaning his current deputy and Foreign Minister Ali al-Issawi is out. Ali al-Tarhouni, a U.S.-educated economist, will continue acting as oil minister until the National Oil Company is ready to take over.
The new leaders said they would remain in place until the country is secured and liberation is declared, then a new transitional government would be formed within a month.
“We have signed a pledge to the Libyan people that we will not be part of the future government not in any way,” Mr. Abdul-Jalil said to applause.
The pledge was intended to reassure the public they will not suffer under another dictatorship.
Revolutionary forces are still battling loyalists of Mr. Qadhafi on two major fronts as well as pockets deep in the southern desert. But Mr. Jibril said he had asked that liberation be declared after Qadhafi’s hometown of Sirte is captured because that would ensure that all sea, land and air entry ports are secure.
He acknowledged fighting would continue in Bani Walid, where the terrain and the harbouring of suspected high-level regime figures possibly including Qadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam has led to a weekslong standoff. But he said it was important to declare victory and begin rebuilding the country.
“Bani Walid doesn’t have any international exits,” Mr. Jibril said. “And it is very important to begin and speed up the transitional process and begin the democratic stage.”
Keywords: Libyan uprising