Last updated: 7 October, 2012

Libya’s prime minister steps down after rejection by National Assembly

Libyan premier Mustafa Abu Shagur was dismissed on Sunday after the General National Congress rejected his proposed “crisis” cabinet of just 10 ministers, days after his first line-up was also turned down.

The embattled Abu Shagur, who had been given 72 hours to come up with a new cabinet, was relieved of his duties after his last chance to form a government, and the GNC will have to elect a new premier within the next three to four weeks.

Before he had even put forward his second cabinet list in just four days, a motion of no confidence in Abu Shagur was signed by 126 assembly members.

That was rejected by the GNC president.

But when his pared-down list was put to the vote, 125 members of the 186 members present in the 200-seat GNC did not express “confidence” in his choices, against 44 members for and 17 abstentions, according to a live state television broadcast.

Under GNC rules, the assembly will now have to elect a new premier.

“In face of the dangers threatening the country, I present to you a crisis government restricted to 10 ministers, rejecting all geographical considerations,” Abu Shagur earlier told the GNC.

He proposed a defector colonel who led the rebellion in the east against late dictator Moamer Kadhafi last year as defence minister and a police general for the interior ministry.

He was taking neither geographical nor political considerations into account, Abu Shagur said, criticising the assembly for rejecting his original choices.

“The first government was not perfect. And we should have discussed and modified it,” he said.

“I will not assume responsibility for a team that is not of my own liking,” he said, and called on the GNC to “assume its responsibilities at this historic time.”

Abu Shagur also accused assembly members and political blocs of blackmail.

“The political parties have decided to withdraw their confidence in me,” he said, alluding to rumours of a deal between the rival liberal National Forces Alliance coalition and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party.

The NFA of wartime premier Mahmud Jibril was left off Abu Shagur’s first cabinet list after failed negotiations, and the two blocs were reported to have agreed to form a unity government.

More than 100 protesters stormed the national assembly’s headquarters on Thursday, demanding greater representation for the western town of Zawiyah and reportedly calling for Abu Shagur’s resignation as he presented his first line-up.

— Uphill task —


Residents of the east and south complain they were marginalised for 42 years under Kadhafi before the 2011 conflict that toppled his regime and killed him.

The first list of 29 ministers, including one woman, included several members of the transitional government and many unknown figures, while there were no representatives of the main liberal coalition.

GNC representatives on Thursday lambasted Abu Shagur’s ministerial choices, calling them either incompetent, unknown, or remnants from the previous transitional government.

Abu Shagur, a technocrat, won his post on September 12 by a small margin in a run-off vote against Jibril.

He was committed to forming a government of consensus and says he negotiated with all parties. But he also had to tackle fallout from a deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on September 11 and anti-militia protests.

The attack led to the killing of four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens.

Analysts had said Abu Shagur faced an uphill task in forming a new government.

“The first challenge is security,” said Jason Pack, a Libyan history researcher at Cambridge University and president of online repository

“The central government does not yet have sufficient military capacity to provide adequate security for its own parliamentary offices, let alone for the complex process of disarming and demobilising the hundreds of militias.”

Under the transition plan for Libya, a new government will be in power for about a year only, until fresh elections on the basis of a new constitution are held.