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Libya`s NTC unveils new government line-up

Several surprise appointments suggested the line-up was aimed at trying to soothe rivalries between regional factions.

Updated: Nov 23, 2011, 00:23 AM IST

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

Earlier, the International Criminal Court`s chief prosecutor conceded that the captured son of Muammar Gaddafi, 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 Gaddafi`s 42-year rule.

The new cabinet will include as defense minister Osama Al-Juwali, commander of the military council in the town of Zintan, NTC spokesman Mahmoud Shammam told reporters in Tripoli.

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

The foreign minister was named as Ashour Bin Hayal, a little-known diplomat originally from Derna, in eastern Libya.

His appointment was unexpected as diplomats had predicted the job would go to Libya`s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who had rallied diplomats to turn against Gaddafi early in the revolt against his rule.

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

The NTC spokesman was speaking to reporters who were waiting for prime minister designate Abdurrahim El-Keib to make an official announcement of the government line-up.

Prosecution

Libya is struggling to build new institutions out of the wreckage of Gaddafi`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 inside 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, so that is the system," he told reporters on his arrival in Tripoli.

"Our International Criminal Court acts when the national 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."

The foreign minister was named as Ashour Bin Hayal, a little-known diplomat originally from Derna, in eastern Libya.

His appointment was unexpected as diplomats had predicted the job would go to Libya`s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who had rallied diplomats to turn against Gaddafi early in the revolt against his rule.

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

The NTC spokesman was speaking to reporters who were waiting for prime minister designate Abdurrahim El-Keib to make an official announcement of the government line-up.

Prosecution

Libya is struggling to build new institutions out of the wreckage of Gaddafi`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 inside 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, so that is the system," he told reporters on his arrival in Tripoli.

"Our International Criminal Court acts when the national 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.

"The law says the primacy is for the national system. If they prosecute the case here, we will discuss with them how to inform the judges and they can do it. But our judges have to be involved," said Moreno-Ocampo.

Saif al-Islam was captured in an ambush deep in the Sahara desert and is now being held in the town of Zintan, in the Western Mountains region where his captors are based.

An NTC spokesman in Tripoli had described the arrest of Saif al-Islam, the last of Muammar Gaddafi`s offspring whose whereabouts had been unaccounted for, as "the last chapter in the Libyan drama."

An official in Zintan saidsteps were already underway for Saif al-Islam`s prosecution. "A Libyan prosecutor met with Saif (on Monday) to conduct a preliminary investigation," said Ahmed Ammar.

Bureau Report