April 22, Tripoli:
NTC head Mustafa Abdel Jalil tonight sought to head off any moves for a government reshuffle so close to . . .[restrict]June’s elections for a constitutional assembly.
Warning that any reshuffle would be impractical because it could impact the timing of the elections, he nonetheless added that there was “motivation” for changes to the government line up.
Confusion has reined since last Tuesday when NTC spokesman Mohammed Al-Hareizy said the Council was reviewing the work of some ministries. He refused, however, to say which ministries might be under the spotlight or whether Prime Minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib’s job might also be under review. Observers were further puzzled when Al-Hareizy went on to say that the reshuffle could happen in the next few weeks.
However, the following day the interim government’s own spokesman, Nasser Al-Mana, announced that the prime minister “has reviewed the performance of certain ministries and will announce a cabinet reshuffle soon.”
While Al-Mana also did not specify which ministries might be involved, it has been clear for some while that there have been questions over the performance of the defence, health and interior ministries. There has been criticism of widespread fraud and inefficiency, which includes the slow integration of thuwars into the security forces and continuing poor security and public order.
Last night Jalil told Reuters: “In my opinion there will be no change in the government and we will push through. A new government will need two weeks to pick names, another two weeks for it to take office and this is all valuable time taken away from the Libyan people” — a reference to the fact that the constituent assembly when elected in eight weeks’ time, will appoint a new government.
Jalil went on to praise what Al-Kib’s administration had achieved: “under the very difficult circumstances experienced by the Council and the interim government.”
He also pointed out that among the challenges hampering the government’s work were demonstrations and sit ins. He added that the NTC and the interim government did not enjoy presidential-style executive authority, but simply had a legislative role while working to restore order in the wake of the conflict.
One of the senior politicians most associated with moves to force a reshuffle, or even oust the government, is NTC member Fathi Baja. He has claimed that two thirds of the NTC had signed a memorandum demanding the Al-Kib government be dismissed for “failure to perform the tasks entrusted to it.” Baja, who represents Benghazi on the Council, where he has oversight of political affairs, is an academic and political scientist.
Today however, one political analyst close to the NTC said he did not believe that there has been any concerted action to oust the government. “It would be crazy to go for a cabinet reshuffle just eight weeks before an election. It would be a devastating admission of weakness and failure.” [/restrict]