Libya’s first democratically elected government officially took office in early November, with the swearing-in of 20 Cabinet ministers appointed by Prime Minister Ali Zidan. The prime minister took care to include nominees favored by the main secular and Islamist blocs, the NFA and Justice and Construction, respectively, and also included figures from eastern Libya, an area that is currently buzzing with calls for significant regional autonomy.

Significantly, both Interior Minister Ashour Suleiman Shuwail and the new defense minister, Mohammed al-Barghati, a retired air force officer, hail from the capital of the country’s eastern province, Benghazi. The placement of the main security portfolios under the responsibility of Benghazi natives is, no doubt, intended to shield the government from charges of regional bias in the event developments in the east require the central government to assert its authority.

Unfortunately, there is a good chance such action could become necessary. Zidan has promised that ensuring security, integrating former rebels into the national armed forces, and promoting national reconciliation will be his top priorities. And it is highly unlikely that he can succeed on all three fronts without at least threatening the use of force against those who refuse to cooperate.

A new constitution is being counted on to create a basis for more stable and effective governance down the road, but the process of drafting the document is already behind schedule. And the constitutional commission, once in place, faces protracted debate over numerous contentious issues. Bearing this in mind, it seems very unlikely that a new constitution will be in place until sometime late in 2013, at the earliest.

Until a new constitution is adopted, the rules of the game remain subject to the 2011 constitutional declaration. This has no clear provisions on the division of power between the legislative and executive branches of government on key issues such as economy, defense, and foreign policy.


The PRS Group
About The Author The PRS Group
The PRS Group is a leading global provider of political and country risk analysis and forecasts, covering 140 countries. Based on proprietary, quantitative risk models, the firm's clientele includes financial institutions, multilateral agencies, and trans-national firms.

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