Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Libyan cabinet balances regional, ideological rivalries Gadhafi's captured son could be tried in Libya, International Criminal Court says

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) on Tuesday named a new government featuring several surprise appointments that suggested the lineup was aimed at trying to soothe rivalries between regional factions.

Earlier, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor conceded the captured son of Moammar Gadhafi, Saif al-Islam, may be tried in Libya rather than in The Hague, meaning he faces the death penalty if convicted. In forming a government, the NTC faced the tricky task of trying to reconcile regional and ideological interests whose rivalry threatens to upset the country's fragile stability, three months after the end of Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

"All of Libya is represented," Prime Minister Ab-durrahim El-Keib told a news conference as he unveiled the lineup.

"It is hard to say that any area is not represented."

The new cabinet will include as defence minister Osama Al-Juwali, commander of the military council in the town of Zintan.

Juwali appeared to have staked his claim to the job after his forces captured Saif al-Islam on the weekend and flew him to their hometown.

The foreign minister is Ash-our Bin Hayal, a little-known diplomat originally from Derna, in eastern Libya.

His appointment was un-expected as diplomats had predicted the job would go to Libya's deputy envoy to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dab-bashi, who had rallied diplomats to turn against Gadhafi early in the revolt against his rule.

The decision to leave out Dabbashi was a "surprise," but was probably motivated by the need to appease representatives of Derna, a big anti-Gadhafi power base, one diplomat told Reuters.

Hassan Ziglam, an oil-industry executive, was named as finance minister, and Ab-dulrahman Ben Yezza, a former executive with Italian oil major ENI, was made oil minister. Libya is struggling to build new institutions out of the wreckage of Gadhafi's one-man rule, when corruption was rampant and state institutions were left to decay.

The Hague-based ICC has indicted Saif al-Islam for crimes against humanity.

But chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on a visit to Tripoli that Saif al-Islam could be tried in Libya as long as the trial complies with ICC standards.

"Saif is captured so we are here to ensure cooperation. Now in May, we requested an arrest warrant because Libyans could not do justice in Libya. Now as Libyans are decided to do justice, they could do justice and we'll help them to do it," he told reporters on his arrival in Tripoli.

"Our International Criminal Court acts when the nation-al system cannot act. They have decided to do it and that is why we are here to learn and to understand what they are doing and to cooperate."

Libyan officials have promised a fair trial, but the country still has the death penalty on its books, whereas the severest punishment the ICC can impose is life imprisonment.

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