By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 14 July 2013:
The General National Congress has endorsed overwhelmingly a new Islamic Affairs minister, thus bringing to an . . .[restrict]end a long-term source of tension between it and prime minister Ali Zeidan.
Ali Mohamed Al-Bashir received 96 votes out of the 124 members of Congress present today and will replace Mohamed Abdulsalam Mohamed Abusada, who had claimed that the prime minister had prevented him from doing his job.
When he was first forming his government, Zeidan did not put forward a candidate as Minister of Islamic Affairs. Then, after the GNC had approved his late choice of Abusada, it was claimed that the PM ignored his new minister, preferring to work through Deputy Islamic Affairs Minister Khaled Warshfani, who ran the ministry in collaboration with local government minister Abubaker Al-Hadi Mohammed. The local government minister has since reportedly complained of the extra workload.
This June, Congress’ Committee on Awqaf and Islamic Affairs accused the Prime Minister of deliberately sidelining the Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ministry. After today’s vote, Emhemed Muammar Diab, a member of the committee told the Libya Herald: “We demanded the Congress select quickly a new Islamic Affairs and Awqaf minister, because the work of the ministry is building up, especially with the Haj season coming soon.”
Last month, Diab, a Justice and Construction Congressman, told this newspaper that his committee had contacted the Prime Minister “several times,” demanding to know why he was sidelining Abusada. Diab said that the committee had been given assurances on the issue, but that nothing had happened.
Diab said his committee had taken up the matter with the Legislative Committee in Congress and been told that what was being done was illegal. However other legal advice suggests that even when Congress has approved a minister, a prime minister is not obliged to continue with that minister.