On Sunday, the elected Libyan National Congress acted decisively to hold a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur. The same body had put him in power on September 12,…
On Sunday, the elected Libyan National Congress acted decisively to hold a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur. The same body had put him in power on September 12, but had grown increasingly impatient with his lack of leadership qualities. They complained that he took too long to form a government, that when he did it was full of former regime figures and non-entities, and that he seemed unwilling to engage them and defend his choices. When he presented his second, unsatisfactory slate of ministers to them on Sunday, they simply dumped him, by a vote of 125 to 44. The members of the Congress seem not to view this vote as a crisis, and plan to elect another prime minister shortly, either from outside the body or from among themselves.
the al-Safir correspondent believes that the Abushagur cabinet lineups were unacceptable to the Libyan ‘street.’ That is, the Congress members were not just being petulant, they were acting on complaints from their constituents.
There were, al-Safir argues, three main sorts of complaints.
1. One was that the cabinet ministers didn’t seem to have qualifications for their posts and there were fears they would be incompetent.
2. Others complained that the government didn’t look like the country, and that major revolutionary groups like the people of Zintan were not represented.
3. Others complained that the largest political party, Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance, was excluded from posts, while the Muslim fundamentalists, who did poorly in July’s election, were over-represented. (Even Aljazeera concurs on this point.) The National Forces Alliance is a civil party that is nationalist and centrist.
The Libyan electorate is thought to be skittish about Muslim fundamentalists, and especially after radicals attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, may have been uncomfortable with having them be prominent in a cabinet that excluded the nationalists.
Abushagur was perhaps rightly dismissive of the demand that his cabinet be apportioned on a regional quota system. But for him to favor the widely disliked fundamentalists over the popular Jibril group was his major error.
I saw some tweets suggesting that the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood would benefit from Abushagur’s departure. I think that analysis profoundly misreads what happened.
After being ruled by a batty dictator 1969-2011, Libyans now have a democratically elected legislature, and they’ve just gotten rid of their third leader in the space of a year. The vote of no confidence in Abushagur was democratically accomplished and expressed genuine popular buyer’s remorse. It is no more a paralyzing crisis than the Californians’ recall of Gov. Gray Davis was. Unlike what you will read, the country is not politically terribly unstable, and it does have a government, which is the Congress.
Al-Safir doesn’t expect a new government for 3-4 weeks; that is probably too long.
Despite the appearance of instability created by Sunday’s vote, Libyans are proving themselves bold in their new, democratic politics.. The National Congress now needs to move quickly to install a more decisive prime minister, one who can put together a government with popular support and who can rapidly address the country’s security problems.