Tripoli, 26 September:
The National Congress has threatened to dismiss Mustafa Abushagur as prime minister-elect if he fails to submit his proposed government by 7 October.
The ultimatum follows a request by Abushagur to extend the period in which he can form a government by ten days.
The prime minister-elect had previously announced his intention to submit his choices to Congress on 30 September, although it was subsequently agreed that this deadline would be brought forward by three days.
Congress spokesman Omar Hmaidan said today that the requested extension was still under review, but insisted that 7 October represented an absolute deadline.
“[Prime Minister-elect] Abushagur must put forward his proposal by 7 October”, Hmaidan said.
“If he fails to submit his proposed cabinet by 7 October, we would consider his position to be resigned”.
Having outlined his commitment to form a government of national unity, Abushagur is rumoured to be under considerable strain to reach agreement with the numerous different factions and competing interests seeking to maximise their influence during this next phase of the country’s political transition.
His situation has potentially been made more difficult by as-yet unconfirmed reports that Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance has backed out of joining any new government.
Last week, the NFA chief hinted at his unhappiness with negotiations when he said that his alliance would have no part in any government “if [it] is only needed to make up numbers, or to show off”.
Being part of any government that did not seek to implement the pledges made by the NFA to the Libyan people would, Jibril said, “be a waste of time”.
A failure to involve the NFA in any cabinet would represent a major blow to Abushagur’s aspirations to create a government of national unity, given that it is the largest single bloc in the Congress, holding 39 of the 80 seats reserved for political parties.
Abushagur narrowly beat Jibril for the prime ministership in an election on 12 September, receiving 96 votes from Congress members to the NFA leader’s 94.
Jibril had led the race comfortably after the first round of voting, but was squeezed out in the second and final round when Islamists in the Congress, who had previously backed Electricity Minister Awad Barasi, transferred their votes en masse to Abushagur.