Ali Zidan elected Libya’s new Prime minister (16/10/2012)

On Sunday evening, 179 members (out of 200) of Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) have elected a new Prime Minister, Ali Zidan. An independent candidate, he won 93 votes against 85 to Mohamed Harari, a minister within Abd al-Rahim Al-Kib’s government and the candidate favored by the Justice and Construction Party which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. Said to be close to Mahmoud Jibril, who leads the National Forces Alliance he is nevertheless seen as a man of compromise, promising not to reject the influence of islamists: « Islam is our belief system and the source for any jurisprudence, and anything against sharia is refused” he was quoted in an interview to Reuters.
Born in 1950 in Wadan (Jufra) and a member of Al-Bayt tribe, Mr Zidan holds a master’s degree in international relations. He was a Libyan career diplomat from 1975 to 1980. During this short period, he served in India while the Libyan Ambassador was Mohamed Youssef Al Megarif, now the President of Libya. Both defected in 1980 and joined Libya’s oldest opposition movement, National Front for the Salvation of Libya. He has since worked as a human rights lawyer, mostly based in Geneva. He served the former transitional government as its Europe envoy (he has spent several years working in Germany) and was seen as a key player in convincing the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to support the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. According to press reports, Zidan had been Jibril’s preferred candidate against al-Megarif for the post of president when he lost.
His top priority will be to name a new government that Congress approves and will have 15 days to do so. He will also have to address Libya’s security challenges. Both the Justice and Construction Party (Muslim Brotherhood) and the National Forces Alliance (M. Jibril) said they would join the new government.

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