The minister resigns from the new Libyan government, citing an unfair vote

CAIRO (AP) — A newly appointed minister in Libya’s new east-based government resigned on Thursday, claiming the cabinet vote was unfair and did not include all Libyan factions.

In a video posted on social media, Gamal Salem Shaaban, who had been appointed economy and trade minister, said it was not an honor to join the new cabinet and that it would lead to conflict.

His resignation followed a UN statement raising concerns over reports that the vote on the new government was flawed. There are also fears that the cabinet appointment earlier this week will lead to parallel administrations and stoke tensions in a country mired in conflict for the past decade.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister-elect Fathi Bashagha presented his cabinet list to the eastern House of Representatives, where 92 out of 101 lawmakers present approved it in a vote broadcast live from the eastern city of Tobruk.

“This session lacked transparency and integrity and did not meet procedural standards,” Shaaban said. “There is no honor in being part of a cabinet that will bring war and destruction.”

Bashagha’s own appointment last month deepened divisions between Libyan factions and fueled fears fighting could return after more than a year and a half of relative calm.

Libya’s embattled prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who, like Bashagha, is from Misrata, is defiantly opposed to replacing his government.

Bashagha’s cabinet, which includes three deputy prime ministers, 29 ministers and six ministers of state, was expected to be sworn in by Libyan lawmakers on Thursday. His media office claimed two newly appointed ministers – for foreign affairs and culture – were kidnapped on their way to the swearing-in ceremony. The reports could not be independently verified.

Dbeibah has repeatedly said his government will only hand over power to an elected government. He has proposed a four-point plan to hold a simultaneous parliamentary vote and referendum on constitutional amendments at the end of June. This would be followed by presidential elections after the new parliament drafted a permanent constitution.

Dbeibah was appointed in February 2021 through a United Nations-led process on the condition that he shepherd the country until elections, which were due in December. Efforts to replace him come as Libya failed to hold its first presidential election during his tenure.

The delay in voting was a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos in the oil-rich Mediterranean nation.

Libya has been unable to hold elections since its controversial parliamentary vote in 2014, leaving the country divided for years between rival governments, each backed by armed militias and foreign governments.

The oil-rich North African nation has been ravaged by conflict since a NATO-backed insurgency toppled and then killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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