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Libya will not be governed by extremists, says new PM

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Abdurrahim el-Keib

Abdurrahim el-Keib

In an exclusive interview on Tuesday Libya’s new interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib told RFI that worries over the introduction of sharia law in Libya are unfounded. He says his new government will do its “best” to stop human rights abuses and investigate those that have already taken place.

Interview: Abdurrahim el-Keib, Libya’s new prime minister

Radio France Internationale

“We’ve had some vacuum in the past few months,” he says. “The previous cabinet or executive office, they had lots of issues, challenges to deal with. I think we understand the situation better now. Once we have the government in place we will definitely do the best we can,” he says.

Keib points out that the concerns in the Western media regarding implementation of sharia law amount to scaremongering. “We will not have the extremism that our friends and colleagues in the West are worried about,” he says.

“We’re Muslims. When we say we’re Muslims, we don’t mean it in the negative way,’” Keib says. “I personally have lived, and I guarantee you most Libyans have, among Muslims, as well as friends and families that belong to other religions, or other faiths,” he adds.

The interim prime minister has spent time abroad in the United States and United Arab Emirates, including teaching electrical engineering at both North Carolina State University and the University of Alabama. He is the recipient of several academic awards and has published a number of academic papers.

Keib was selected as the head of the new interim government late on Monday with 26 votes out of 51. He beat four other candidates, notably the National Transitional Council’s interim Oil Minister Ali Tarhouni, who was thought to be one of the front runners for the post.

“They have lots of credentials. Any one of them would have been able to do the job,” he says, adding that he has already invited the other candidates to be part of his new interim government.

Keib does not think his lack of political experience will hamper him from creating a stable, functioning government. “I don’t think you need a politician as such,” says the Tripoli-born academic. “You need a practical person who understands the environment that surrounds him or her,” he says. “Somebody who is inclusive, somebody who holds no grudges, somebody who can get the job done,” he adds.

Under the NTC’s political roadmap Keib is expected to form an interim government before 23rd November. He says certain personal characteristics are vital to those who will become part of the new government including “patriotism”, “a clear record”, “capability” and not having been “a major player in the past regime”.

Age will be a factor taken into consideration as well as representation from across different regions of Libya, he says. Keib believes that women will “definitely” be involved because they are “major players” in Libya’s future.

Keib describes his new role as getting Libya to a point where it is stable and secure. After 42 years of dictatorship under deposed leader Moamer Kadhafi, Keib says he has “never had a better night’s sleep than the one when I first came to Tripoli after liberation”.

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Written by Daniel Finnan

1 November 2011 at 23:45

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