BENGHAZI – Libya’s new interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah pledged to unite divided Libya as he was sworn in Monday, preparing to steer the war-torn country to December elections, AFP reported.
The North African nation descended into conflict after dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011, with an array of forces battling to fill the void.
A United Nations-supervised process is working to unite the country, building on an October ceasefire between rival administrations in the country’s east and west.
Dbeibah, selected at UN-sponsored talks in February alongside an interim three-member presidency council, took the oath of office in front of lawmakers in the eastern city of Tobruk.
More than 1,000 kilometres (630 miles) from the capital Tripoli in the west, Tobruk has been the seat of Libya’s elected parliament since 2014.
Dbeibah’s swearing-in comes after parliament last week approved his cabinet, in a move hailed by key leaders and foreign powers as “historic”.
The government pledged to “preserve the unity, security and integrity” of Libya with Dbeibah insisting that his cabinet “will be the government of all Libyans”.
“Libya is one and united,” he said.
Several ambassadors attended the ceremony alongside parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.
“The time has come for us to shake hands,” Saleh said, calling on Libyans to “turn the page on the past” and seek national reconciliation.
The EU’s envoy to Libya, Jose Sabadell, welcomed the signing-in with the Arabic word “mabruk”: “congratulations”.
“Proud to have been part of this event in Tobruk,” he tweeted, adding that the ceremony carried “strong messages… on the need for elections” in December.
Dbeibah’s government includes two deputy prime ministers, 26 ministers and six ministers of state, with five posts including the key foreign affairs and justice portfolios handed to women, a first in Libya.
The new administration is expected to replace both the UN-recognised Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and a parallel cabinet headquartered in the east, under the de facto control of forces backing military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Outgoing GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj has said he is “fully ready to hand over” power, while Haftar last month offered “the support of the armed forces for the peace process”.