BENGHAZI, Libya, Sept 23 (Reuters) – An interim government in Libya will be announced within the next few days and will include 22 ministerial portfolios, a spokesman for the North African country’s transitional rulers said on Friday.
“We’ve agreed on a number of portfolios and who would hold the most important ones. There will be 22 portfolios and one vice premier,” said Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council (NTC). “It would be a compact government, a crisis government.”
Discussions in Libya to set up a more inclusive interim government have been unproductive before. It remains unclear whether the NTC, still based in the eastern city of Benghazi, can unify a country split along tribal and regional lines.
NTC forces are still fighting to capture a couple of towns controlled by loyalists to Muammar Gaddafi, whose regime was toppled with the capture of Tripoli last month.
Chaotic scenes at the front line and prolonged discussions about the formation of an new cabinet have raised questions about the NTC’s ability to control the country.
Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said this week that the new government would be announced within 10 days.
Ghoga said the prime minister in the new government would no longer hold the foreign affairs portfolio. “There’s an agreement now on who would be the foreign minister,” he said, declining to give more details.
He added that Abdullah Shamia and Soliman el-Sahli would keep their respective portfolios of economy and education in the new cabinet but other ministries would be run by new ministers.
“We are still in the stage of liberating the country. War is still going on. The focus should be on portfolios like defence, security, health and economy,” he said.
Despite gaining almost full control of a string of desert towns in Libya’s deep south, NTC forces have so far failed to take the two much larger loyalist strongholds far to the north, Bani Walid and Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte.
Ghoga denied reports that divisions among NTC officials were hampering an agreement on a new government.
“There was only a debate about the vision for forming the government: what are the most important portfolios? How do we limit (the number of portfolios) to a minimum until the war ends?”
The NTC said last week it would move to Tripoli only after its forces are in full control of Libyan territory, contradicting an earlier pledge to move the interim administration to the capital around mid-September.
“Complete liberation would be announced when we are in control of Sirte and Bani Walid and control all the border crossings,” Ghoga said. “This means Gaddafi forces would have no control over any of those crossings. I believe it’s a matter of few days.”