Libyan leader wants to speed up elections

Libya’s outgoing prime minister called Sunday for speeding up the timetable for holding elections, warning that a political vacuum could develop in a country emerging from an eight-month civil war.

Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril noted that under current plans, Libyans would have to wait until June to choose a panel to oversee the writing of a new constitution, which would set the stage for presidential and legislative elections.

“We don’t want an eight-month gap,” he said at a news conference. The delay would be “dangerous,” he said.

Jibril’s comments suggested that there are differences within the National Transitional Council, which provided political leadership during the struggle to overthrow dictator Moammar Gaddafi but has moved slowly to establish order in the postwar phase.

Hundreds of revolutionary militias are imposing order nationwide, and human-rights groups say they could become entrenched unless the interim government asserts control soon. The transitional council is engaged in lengthy discussions about who will serve in an interim government to lead the country for the next eight months.

Jibril, who is considered to have limited popularity, has said he won’t form part of the new government. He suggested more than doubling the size of the transitional council, to 120 members, adding women, young people and military leaders from around the country — groups whose absence has sparked criticism. The expanded council could draw up a constitution and prepare the nation for elections, he said.

Jibril also told reporters that chemical weapons had been found at two locations, and that international experts had been summoned to examine the sites. He declined to provide details. The U.S. State Department had said during the war that it thought Libyan stockpiles of mustard agent and uranium were secure. But Jibril’s announcement indicated that new arms caches had been discovered.


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