US-Libya Discuss Support for Elections

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The US Ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland held a telephone call with the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament, Ageela Saleh. He called on Saleh to de-escalate tensions, avoid violence, and restore the momentum for Parliamentary and Presidential elections as soon as possible.

Norland welcomed Saleh’s involvement with the efforts of the United Nations, to reach a speedy agreement on a constitutional basis.

The US ambassador stressed the decisive role of the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC), and urged not to return to the turmoil of the past, according to a statement by the US Embassy in Libya.

Last week, the Libyan Parliament ushered in a new transitional government for the country, headed by Prime Minister, Fathi Bashagha. 92 of the 101 lawmakers in attendance approved the decision, in a live broadcast from the city of Tobruk.

The new Libyan government includes three deputy prime ministers, 29 ministers, and six ministers of state. Two women are in the Cabinet, overseeing the Ministry of Culture and Arts, and holding the position of State Minister for Women’s Affairs.

Bashagha appointed Ahmed Houma, the Second Deputy Speaker of the Parliament to lead the Ministry of Defense, and Brig. Essam Abu Zreiba, from the western city of Zawiya as Interior Minister. Former Ambassador to the European Union, Hafez Qadour was named Foreign Minister.

The appointment of Bashagha last month, a former Libyan Interior Minister from the western city of Misrata, is part of a new Parliamentary roadmap. It also involves several constitutional amendments, and for elections to be held in 14 months.

The move deepened divisions among rival factions and raised fears that fighting could return after more than a year and a half of relative calm. Opposing armed groups have been mobilising in Tripoli over recent weeks, as the country’s search for peace and a unified central government remains elusive.