By Essam Mohamed
Abdurrahim El Keib was elected Monday (October 31st) as the new interim Libyan prime minister by the National Transitional Council (NTC).
During the NTC vote, each candidate was given 20 minutes to present his vision for the work of the interim government. In an anonymous ballot, El Keib won 26 out of 51 votes.
El Keib will head the interim administration until a permanent government can be elected in eight months. The cabinet will consist of the prime minister, his deputy and 23 ministers.
One of the first promises made by Libya’s new interim prime minister was his reassurance that “the dismantlement of armed militias will be dealt with respectfully”.
“We understand that our brothers, the revolutionary fighters, share our opinion. They also believe that the country’s stability is extremely important,” he told reporters.
He also vowed that human rights would be a priority of his government.
“We guarantee that we are going to build a nation that respects human rights and does not accept the abuse of human rights. But we need time,” he said.
He went on to express his sympathy with the families of martyrs and wounded people, saying that the relatives had the right to receive compensation.
El Keib spent decades abroad as an opponent of Kadhafi before joining the pro-democracy revolution that overthrew him.
He was minister of communication and transport in NTC’s executive board.
He obtained a bachelor of science with honours when he graduated from the University of Tripoli in 1973. He later earned a master’s and doctorate’s degree in the United States, where he also taught at the University of Alabama.
After celebrations in Tripoli last Friday to mark liberation, the NTC is moving forward with an interim government.
El Keib replaces Mahmoud Jibril, who resigned three days after Kadhafi was captured and killed October 20th following the fall of Sirte.
The appointment of a new prime minister came as the UN Security Council on Monday called on Libya’s interim authorities and neighbouring countries to stamp out the spread of weapons from Kadhafi’s stockpiles.
The election also followed a visit to Tripoli by NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen to mark the official end of NATO operations in Libya.
The new government will face extensive challenges such as disarmament of fighters, creation of a standing army and rebuilding Libya after the war.
“This is an interim government. The more important one is the next government,” noted Ali Shoaib, a veteran journalist reporting for Reuters.
Social media activist Bouchra Marawan said, “Choosing a head of government is undoubtedly an important step that we urgently need. We hope that Mr Abdurrahim El Keib will be up to the task and that his election will be the beginning of a new page for Libya to be built on democratic foundations.”
“However, I have some reservations on the way Mr El Keib has been selected,” she went on. “I wished that the people who were nominated for this position and all NTC members had taken the initiative to introduce themselves to the people first and at least publish their CVs before anything else.”
Marawan explained that some people may have felt marginalised by the NTC’s failure to publicise the election more. She added that the issue was further complicated by the fact that Libyan media stations are still in “chaos”.
“The man has clear experience in leadership and is characterised by his ability to work in a team work environment,” said Ahmed Abdul Latif. “In Libya, we need such people to lead the transitional stage due to his clear competency in handling the tasks that were assigned to him throughout the past period. He’s been the representative of the Libyan community in UAE.”
Under a political roadmap, El Keib now has until November 23rd to form an interim government that will run Libya for eight months before elections for a constituent assembly. The new assembly will then draft Libya’s democratic constitution.