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Pro-Islamist elected Libya assembly chief

Pro-Islamist elected Libya assembly chief

Tripoli: Libya's new national assembly has elected as its president Mohamed al-Megaryef, a staunch opponent of Muammar Gaddafi's overthrown regime who is seen as being pro-Islamist.

Megaryef, who had led the Libyan National Salvation Front that grouped exiled opponents of Gaddafi, won with 113 votes in the General National Congress (GNC) against liberal independent Ali Zidane, who got 85.

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) on Wednesday handed power to the new assembly, elected July 7, in a symbolic move marking a peaceful transition after the overthrow of Gaddafi's 40-year dictatorship in last year's uprising.

Megaryef, born in 1940 in the eastern city of Benghazi, was elected to the GNC under the flag of his grouping, renamed the National Front Party. The poll for leadership of the new congress was broadcast live on Libyan television.

Five initial candidates were whittled down to two in a runoff vote.

The new GNC president, an economist with a British doctorate in finance, had held leading posts under the Gaddafi regime in the 1970s.

In 1980, he resigned as ambassador to India to join the opposition in exile and co-founded the National Salvation Front.

Hunted by Gaddafi's intelligence service, he spent 20 years in the United States as a political refugee before returning to Libya in the wake of the revolution there.

The GNC will be tasked with choosing a new interim government to take over from the NTC and will steer the country until fresh elections can be held, based on a constitution to be drafted by a constituent authority of 60 members.

Libyans elected a legislative assembly of party and independent representatives last month, in their first free vote since a popular uprising last year escalated into a civil war that ousted the now-slain Kadhafi.

Of the 200 assembly members, the lion's share of seats has been set aside for individual candidates whose loyalties and ideologies remain unclear but who are being wooed by various blocs.


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