New Prime Minister for Libya from the Liberal Bloc

Libya’s General Congress elected Ali Zidan as the countries new Prime Minister, after one week from dismissing Mustafa Abushagur as Prime Minister for failing to get his government approved by Congress. Ali Zidan won the position with 93 votes from congress members to 85 votes for Mohamed Alharari who was supported by Islamists the Muslim Brotherhood bloc within the Libyan Congress.
Ali Zidan is a former Congressman, diplomat and human rights lawyer and campaigner. He is a widely respected figure in Libyan politics, and many in Libya view him as Liberal. He played crucial role before and during the revolution to rally Europe’s support for the Libyan revolution, and worked closely with former Prime Minister and National Front Alliances leader Mahmoud Jibril on the international state. Zidan was supported by the Liberal block within the Libyan Congress lead by the National Forces Alliance led by Mahmoud Jibril.
Despite clear defeat for Islamists in Libya’s parliamentary elections, the Islamist bloc within GNC managed to greatly influence the Libyan politics by clever manoeuvring and striking deals with smaller blocs within the Congress like the National Front Party of which Almgariaf was leader until his election as head of the Congress.
The election of Ali Zidan represents the Libyan people’s desire to have a Prime Minister from the liberal bloc and supported by Jibril’s National Forces Alliance. However, Zidan’s election will not resonate well with armed militias that are usually led by Islamist elements.
Zidan will face very fragile security situation in the country, with tensions rising between the cities of Misrata and Bani Walid in western Libya, which could result in resumption of hostilities and lead the country to the darkness of civil war.
The new Prime Minister resembles strong leadership, diplomacy and has practical political understanding of Libyan politics. In addition, as former Congressman, he is the best candidate to handle internal party politics within Libya’s congress and is highly likely to have his cabinet list approved on time.
Zidan will need to avoid mistakes committed by Mustafa Abushagur as he tried to form his cabinet. He primarily will need to consult with those who supported him and secured his bid for the Prime Ministers’ office. He will need maintain their support in order to approve his cabinet. In addition, Zidan should reach across the aisle and engage independents and possibly Islamists in his talks as he forms his government.
In his presentation to the Congress Zidan vowed to improve living standards and raise wages for Libyans. He also vowed to reform and kick start the Libyan economy. His top priority is security, he will have to handle hundreds of armed militias and millions of pieces of weapons scattered throughout the country. He also stressed that the country is in urgent need for reconciliation between different factions, towns and tribes following the armed revolution that toppled Gaddafi’s regime.
Zidan’s election as Prime Minister will limit the Islamists control and influence of government institutions since the country’s liberation about a year ago. He will most likely face political storms during his time, as Prime Minister and it is certain that Islamists will take every chance to try to undermine his efforts and work unless he manages to have them on his side and as a key partner in his government.
Zidan’s election will also represent geographical balance for Libya, as he comes from Southern Libya, and geographically the head of the Congress is from Eastern Libya, the Prime Minister is from the south, and the parliamentary majority is from the west of the country with 109 seats.
Zidan’s success as Prime Minister will depend greatly on his choice for the posts of Ministers of Interior and Defence. Libya requires these two posts to be filled by experienced and professional candidates in order to bring in a wealth skills and experience to tackle the critical issues of security, armed militias and creation of the national army and strong national police.
Ali Zidan has to address three key issues while choosing his team in order to get his government approved. First, he should ensure political participation and representation in his government by holding talks with all the key players in Libya’s political sphere. Second, he will need to address the issue of geographical representation to the best of his ability in order to defuse any regional tensions. Third, he will need to appoint a competent government with qualified and experienced ministers with wealth of skills and knowledge of the different public sectors in Libya.
Finally, Zidan has all the ingredients for a successful Prime Minister for Libya at this very critical stage. He is the preferred public choice; and he has the backing of the biggest political bloc within the Libyan Congress. In addition, his diplomatic and political experience will work greatly in his favour if he employs that effectively both domestically and internationally. Mohamed Eljarh is a UK based Libyan academic researcher and political, social development activist. He is from the city of Tobruk in Eastern Libya. [Email: m.eljarh@yahoo.co.uk]. Follow me on Twitter: @Eljarh Copyright © 2012 Mohamed Eljarh