Some parliamentarians argued that Abushagur's Cabinet list was not diverse enough and involved too many unknown individuals for key posts. His first proposed Cabinet makeup was also criticized for including too many names from the previous interim government, which was seen by some Libyans as weak and corrupt.
After 40 years of Gadhafi's divide-and-rule tactics and the 2011 war, Libya's towns, tribes and regions are highly polarized. Many feel entitled to high government positions because of their losses in the war against Gadhafi, and are wary of any power wielded by their rivals.
In an indication of the charged atmosphere, Abushagur withdrew the initial line-up for government after the parliamentary chamber was stormed on Thursday by protesters from the city of Zawiya — one of several cities that took the brunt of Gadhafi's attacks during the war — demanding representation. Lawmakers left the General National Congress floor, saying they would not vote under pressure.
Before the vote of no-confidence, Abushagur said he was aiming to create a government of national unity that did not appoint ministers according to "quotas."
"The government I proposed is not perfect and was marred by some mistakes, so I changed it for the purpose of national unity," he said.
Independent lawmaker Nizar Kawan, who is aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, said the Islamist group's party and a liberal coalition led by former rebel prime minister Mahmoud Jibril had been holding talks about replacing Abushagur with an independent figure who has no political background. The candidate would then be tasked with forming a government that is run by well-known professionals and is politically balanced and geographically representative.
Abushagur had taught engineering at the University of Alabama for about 17 years before leaving in 2002. He was active in the opposition abroad against Gadhafi prior to last year's uprising.
According to Libya's transition plan, after the formation of a government a new constitution is to be written and voted upon in a national referendum.