Tripoli, 25 February 2013:
Members of the Libyan League of Ulema from the southern region (Fezzan) have put out a statement expressing . . .[restrict]their support for the appointment of Abdulsalam Mohammed Abusaad as the Minister for Religious Affairs. He was sworn into office by Congress two weeks ago.
In Sunday’s statement, the Ulema also confirmed their support for the legitimacy of state institutions represented by the General National Congress and the Government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. They also called for the swift rebuilding of the state in order to ensure security and stability throughout the country and enable development to take place.
The Ulema’s move in regard to Abusaad is seen as significant and denotes a major victory for Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.
From the point that he unveiled his cabinet at the end of October, there were persistent attempts by some members of the league and other religious figures, as well a members of Congress, to force him into ditching Abusaad as Minister for Religious Affairs because he is a Sufi. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice & Construction Party in particular were said to be opposed to the minister.
On 30 October, the day that the Prime Minister unveiled his cabinet, revolutionaries stormed the Congress building to protest a number of appointments, including Abusaad’s. It was also reported that among them were Salafists, specifically opposed to his nomination.
It was claimed at the time, without proof, that he was linked to the Qaddafi regime — a claim some saw as a deliberate attempt to destroy him. As a result he was one of a number of ministers not sworn into office by Congress on 14 November, pending clearance from the Integrity Commission, which has since occurred .
Even as late as the end of December, many revolutionaries as well as religious leaders, were still insisting that they would never accept him as minister for Religious Affairs.
As in the case of Interior Minister, Ashour Shwail, the Prime Minister stuck to his choice and bided his time, waiting until the opposition lost the legal justification for their objections. [/restrict]