Tripoli, 7 August:
A leading member of the new National Congress who did not want to be named told a Libya Herald source today that it will elect a leader and two deputies when it meets for its first session tomorrow night, Wednesday.
It had been expected that the meeting would be entirely ceremonial, concentrating purely on the handover of power from the NTC.
Earlier rumours that once the handover was done, the new legisature would adjourn until after Eid had already been dismissed by several members. They said that having come from all over the country they were not going to return home immediately after the handover and that there was work to be done despite it being Ramadan. However, the suggestion there was that they would met again later.
Members of Congress (MCs) have been gathering in Tripoli in the past couple of days in preparation for the handover and first session and have been seen in hotels and elsewhere gathered in groups well into the early morning, discussing who should lead Congress and the next government.
It was tweeted earlier today by Ali Abdallah, the National Front’s deputy vice president, that candidates for the job of president, or Speaker, of Congress were asked to present themselves to more than 50 of the independent MCs last night. Last week, there were also two reported meetings of independents, in Marj and in Benghazi, to discuss candidates for the post and that of prime minister.
Ali Zidan, from Jufra, who broke with the Nation Party before the election but who is said to be acceptable to the Islamists despite being viewed by others as a liberal, is seen as the front runner for the the job of Speaker. There are others, however, who also have their supporters. These include Abdurrahman Sewehli, leader of the Union for Homeland who it is claimed has the backing of at least 60 MCs, as well as National Front leader Muhammad Magarief and Juma Ateega from Misrata.
There has been a suggestion that the Speaker of Congress should be elected by a two-thirds majority. However, this could create an impossible hurdle to an appointment.
There is also a proposal coming from Mahmoud Jibril, whose National Forces Alliance firmly won the party list system part of the 7 July elections, that there should be a presidential council of seven members to lead the country. Another proposal is that a temporary head of state be appointed in addition to the posts of speaker and prime minister so that there is no repetition of the present situation where Mustafa Adbul Jalil has been acting as both chairman of the NTC and in effect as head of state. Supporters of the idea want the two functions split.
MCs have said, however, that the idea does will not be supported because such as decision at this point would pre-empt the constitutional debate about the role of the head of state.
As to the job of prime minister, it appears to be developing into a two-horse race between Electricity Minister Awad Barasi, supported by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party and other Islamists, and Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur, seen as a reliable pair of hands. [/restrict]