Libyan tribes protest at new government line-up

Awagi and Maghariba tribes were angry because their representatives were not in key posts.

Tripoli: Some of Libya`s clans said on Wednesday they would not recognise the government, after the unveiling of a new cabinet revived regional rivalries which threaten the country`s stability.

Prime Minister designate Abdurrahim El-Keib named a cabinet line-up which aimed to placate Libya`s patchwork of tribes, regional interests and ideological camps which are competing to fill the vacuum left by Muammar Gaddafi`s fall from power.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said during a visit to Tripoli that the trial of Gaddafi`s captured son, Saif al-Islam, could take place inside Libya as long as certain conditions were met.

He also said that he believed Gaddafi`s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, like Saif al-Islam wanted for prosecution by the ICC, had not been captured. Libyan officials had earlier said he had been arrested.

There was no immediate sign of dissent over the cabinet from the most powerful interests - in particular the Islamists who were given none of the biggest government posts - but smaller groups complained they had been neglected.

Announcing the government was the latest step in Libya`s halting progress towards building new institutions, three months after the bloodiest of the "Arab Spring" uprisings ended Gaddafi`s 42-year rule.

About 150 people protested on Wednesday morning outside a hotel in the eastern city of Benghazi where the National Transitional Council has offices, a witness said.

The protesters held up banners saying: "No to a government of outsiders!", the witness said. The demonstration was led by members of the Benghazi-based Awagi and Maghariba tribes, who were angry their representatives were not in key posts.

A group calling itself the Libyan Amazigh Congress called for a suspension of all relations with the NTC over the formation of the government.

The Amazigh, or Berber, are an ethnic minority which suffered persecution under Gaddafi and which is pressing for greater recognition for its language and culture in the new Libya.

"The temporary freezing will be effective until the NTC reconciles with the demands of Amazigh Libyans," the group said in a statement.

Libyan Trial

The ICC earlier this year issued a warrant for Saif al-Islam`s arrest on charges of crimes against humanity. After talks with Libyan officials, Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC would not insist on his transfer to The Hague for trial.

"My standard, the standard of the ICC, is that it has to be a judicial process that is not organised to shield the suspect. That`s it," Moreno-Ocampo told reporters.

"The point is that for Libya, and I respect that, it is very important to do the cases in Libya. This is a right and I have nothing to say. I`m not competing for the case."

Western countries, which backed the revolt against Gaddafi and have a big stake in seeing his replacements succeed, welcomed the new government, saying it would guide the oil exporting country towards democracy.

The NTC`s choices to fill ministerial posts appeared to have put regional affiliation ahead of experience or a track record.

Foreign diplomats had expected the foreign minister`s job to go to Libya`s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi. Instead, it was given to Ashour Bin Hayal, a little-known diplomat from the eastern city of Derna, a long-standing anti-Gaddafi stronghold.

Ali Tarhouni, a U.S.-based academic who returned from exile to manage the oil and finance portfolios in the rebellion against Gaddafi, had no role in the new government. He was seen as a reliable partner by Western diplomats.

Hassan Ziglam, an oil industry executive, was named finance minister, and Abdulrahman Ben Yezza, a former executive with Italian oil major ENI, was made oil minister.

The cabinet line-up appeared to be a setback for the Islamists who in the past few months have emerged as a powerful force and had been eyeing the post of defence minister.

That job went instead to Osama Al-Juwali, the commander of the military council in the western Libyan town of Zintan. He staked a late claim to the post after forces under his command captured Saif al-Islam at the weekend.

Ahmed Abu Ghalisha, Juwali`s deputy on the Zintan military council, said the new defence minister would focus on trying to secure the weapons flooding Libya after the conflict to oust Gaddafi.

The proliferation of weapons had prompted concerns about violence between rival groups inside Libya, and also that guns and anti-aircraft missiles could fall into the hands of al Qaeda`s north African branch.

"The biggest issue right now is the spread of weapons. In the desert, weapons can travel with ease," Ghalisha said.

Bureau Report

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