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New Transition Phase Begins in Libya

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In a potential turning point accord widely welcomed by the international community, four new leaders from Libya’s west, east and south now face the task of unifying a nation torn apart by two rival administrations and countless militias.

Libya embarked Saturday on a new phase of its post-Kadhafi transition after the selection of a unity government to lead the country until December elections following a decade of chaos.

Abdel Hamid Dbeibah, a 61-year-old engineer, was on Friday selected as interim prime minister by a forum of 75 Libyan delegates at UN-led talks in Switzerland, the culmination of a process of dialogue launched last November in Tunis.

It marked the start of a new chapter for the country after the failure of a 2015 UN-brokered deal that established a Government of National Accord headed by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Libya has been mired in violent turmoil with the country riven by divisions between the GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east.

Acting UN envoy Stephanie Williams, who facilitated the week-long talks outside Geneva, said she was “pleased to witness this historic moment”.

“I do believe it is a breakthrough,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States welcomed the interim government, but cautioned it would “have to implement the ceasefire agreement” and offer essential public services to Libyans.

Hailing from the city of Misrata, Dbeibah had led the Libyan Investment and Development Company under dictator Moamer Kadhafi, who was toppled and slain in a 2011 revolution.

The wealthy businessman has 21 days to form a cabinet, with the period renewable for another three weeks to win a vote of confidence in parliament, by March 19 at the latest.

A three-member presidency council has also been chosen to head a unity administration and steer the North African state towards the ballot box on December 24.

The vote is part of a complex UN-led process aiming to build on a fragile ceasefire in force since October that has cleared the way for a resumption of oil exports on which the country is dependent.

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