Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Libyans need a government - not politicking

By firing the new prime minister, Libyan lawmakers exercised their democratic right. But somebody has to be found to govern the country and soon.

When power struggles happen in the streets, they signal trouble. When they take place in the legislature, they're a sign of healthy democracy. In Libya, they are going on at both levels.

A country urgently in need of unity and effective government may have moved towards that goal on Sunday, paradoxically, when the General National Congress sacked Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur, who had taken office last month. The dismissal came after the Congress rejected his 10-member "crisis cabinet". It was his second try; his first cabinet of 29 ministers incurred both public protests and a legislative rebuff.

The fractious Congress was meeting again yesterday to manage the aftermath of its foray into democratic accountability. Across the country, meanwhile, the 6.4 million Libyans continue to live with the uncertainty created by disorder and bluster among the welter of tribes, militias, factions and regional interests unleashed by the fall of Muammar Qaddafi.

There can be no doubt that very many Libyans yearn for peace, order and good government: there was ample evidence of that in the popular protest against the militants who killed the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, last month.

The Congress, to be sure, did just what a legislature is supposed to do: it rejected an executive action it deemed wrong. However, the 125-to-44 vote, with 19 abstentions, was held in secret; Libyans don't know which lawmakers backed the aborted cabinet and which opposed it.

However the Muslim Brotherhood, which fared poorly in legislative elections, is reportedly cooperating now with the National Forces Alliance, a non-Islamist bloc linked to Mahmoud Jibril, who was the interim PM during Libya's civil war. Last month Mr Jibril's bid for the prime ministry was rejected, somewhat surprisingly, in favour of Mr Abushagur's.

An Alliance-Brotherhood coalition might be what Libya needs - provided it can create the momentum to get a cabinet approved, so defence and interior ministers can tackle the security situation and other problems.

If the new Libya is going to be a modern state, these newly formed parties have to grasp the idea that a united country can be much more than the sum of its parts, and that compromise is therefore worthwhile. But compromise requires trust, and to be trustworthy, party leaders must offer vision, integrity, pragmatism, the skill to communicate and an honest willingness to share power.

Those are the characteristics the Congress must now discover in a new prime minister - and in itself.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An tenant in the Al Barsha area of Dubai has been sent a non-renewable contract by the landlord. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai landlord refuses to pay back Rera fees after losing rent case

Keren Bobker helps a tenant who wants to know how to reclaim his RERA case fees and who has also been sent a contract with a “one-year nonrenewable” note.

 A Brabus Mercedes 6x6 Sports Utility Vehicle is readied for display during Auto China 2014 in Beijing, on April 20. Adrian Bradshaw / EPA

In pictures: Auto China 2014 exhibition

Leading automakers have gathered in Beijing for the kickoff of China’s biggest car show, but lacklustre growth and environmental restrictions in the world’s largest car market have thrown uncertainty into the mix. More than 1,100 vehicles are being showcased.

 A customer looks at a large mock-up of videogame console Game Boy.  Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP Photo

Nintendo’s Game Boy at 25: hand-held legacy lives on

Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks its 25th anniversary Monday with the portable device’s legacy living on in cutting-edge smartphone games and among legions of nostalgic fans.

 Luis Suarez became the first Liverpool player to score 30 Premier League goals in a season since Ian Rush in 1987. Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Sterling and Suarez inspire Liverpool to win over Norwich City

The win takes the Premier League table-toppers to 80 points from 35 games.

 A projectionist takes a break in the projection room at Ariana Cinema in Kabul, Afghanistan. Going to the movies, once banned under the Taliban, has become a popular form of entertainment in Kabul, but women and children rarely take part. All photos by Photo by Jonathan Saruk / Reportage by Getty Images

Afghan cinema: Forbidden Reel

The lights go down and the projector whirls into action as Sher Mohammed, 35, begins his routine, bouncing back and forth between two projectors, winding reels, and adjusting the carbon arc lamps inside the projectors.

 Business class seats inside the Emirates Airbus A380. Chip East / Reuters

In it for the long haul: flying 16 hours with Emirates to LA

Our executive travel reviewer tries out the business class offering on Emirates' longest A380 route - and finds time passing quickly.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National