New Libyan government sworn in

PM Abdurrahim el-Keib said he and his ministers were upbeat about leading Libya toward elections by next June.

Tripoli: Libya`s transitional government was sworn in Thursday before the country`s interim leader, another step in the oil-rich country`s roadmap to elections next year.

Starting with Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib, each minister faced the transitional council`s leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, placed his hand on a Quran and swore to "remain loyal to the goals" of the revolution that overthrew longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Each shook Abdel-Jalil`s hand as he stood in front of two national flags, and some also embraced him.

The country faces huge challenges now, but el-Keib said he and his ministers were "upbeat" and optimistic about leading Libya toward elections by next June.

"We are looking forward to having an exciting seven months ahead of us, with lots of things to do and hopefully good results," el-Keib said.

The lineup of relative unknowns, almost all of them older men, will confront daunting challenges, like establishing control over the fractured nation after the ousting of Gaddafi`s 42-year regime, along with building up state institutions practically from scratch.

El-Keib pledged to represent the interests of all Libyans.

"I am a son of all Libyans," he said. "I will represent everyone and share wealth with everyone."

The transitional Cabinet includes 24 ministers, though several, including the defense minister, were missing from Thursday`s ceremony. The prime minister explained that they were out of Tripoli, some of them attending to personal preparations in their hometowns before taking up their new posts.

Among the institutions that must be built is a justice system that will be able to put on trial two key members of the Gaddafi regime — Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, the dictator`s recently captured son and one-time heir-apparent, and the ex-intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi.

The International Criminal Court has charged them both with crimes against humanity for alleged atrocities committed during the recent civil war.

Libyan authorities insist the be tried in Libya, and not at the court in The Hague, Netherlands, a decision aimed at asserting their national authority. However, they have promised to work with the ICC and with the United Nations in investigating the alleged crimes.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told The Associated Press on Thursday that the court received the formal pledge of cooperation in a letter from Abdul-Jalil, the NTC chairman.

Moreno-Ocampo said he was satisfied with that move, which appeared to settle a dispute between the international court and Libyan authorities over which body should try Seif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Moreno-Ocampo said the most important thing is for "face of the old regime" to face justice.

It "is very important for the world and for Libya to understand what happened here, how they attacked these people, how they killed these people," Moreno-Ocampo said.

He said investigations are under way into the alleged crimes committed by Gaddafi`s son and that he believed it would be ready for trial "in a few months."

Seif al-Islam was captured on Saturday and is being held by fighters from the Libyan town of Zintan, who flew him there after his arrest in the south. He appeared to be in good health despite a hand injury, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which visited him Tuesday.

Officials with the NTC have reported that al-Senoussi, the former intelligence chief, has also been captured. But some later cast doubt on that assertion, and his whereabouts are not known.

Bureau Report

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