Pro-Islamist elected Libya assembly chief

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

Megaryef, who had led the Libyan National Salvation Front that grouped exiled opponents of Gadhafi, 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 Gadhafi’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 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.

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