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Libya’s high state council elected new leader amid ongoing political tensions

By a vote of 67 to 62, the Tripoli-based government elected Mohammed Takala as its leader, replacing former leader Khaled al-Mishri.

Tripoli, 7 Aug, 2023 (GNP): In a significant development for Libya’s political landscape, the Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC) has elected Mohammed Takala as its new leader, unseating former head Khaled al-Mishri on Sunday. The run-off election resulted in 67 votes in favor of Takala and 62 against, marking a shift in leadership within one of the country’s key governing bodies.

The introduction of a new leader to the HSC has the potential to increase uncertainty in Libya’s already deeply divided politics. The country has been grappling with conflict since the NATO-backed uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, leading to a decade-long power vacuum and the emergence of rival administrations supported by different militias and foreign governments.

The international community and the United Nations have consistently emphasized the importance of nationwide elections to resolve Libya’s political crisis. However, the country’s rival leaders have struggled to agree on a set of election laws that would pave the way for a comprehensive vote.

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Under a 2015 agreement, the HSC wields significant influence in political matters and has been engaged in negotiations with Libya’s main parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), based in Tobruk. The implications of Takala’s victory on the HSC’s ongoing discussions with the HoR concerning electoral rules remain uncertain.

The election discussions are taking place under the UN’s pressure, as both bodies seek to replace the interim government in Tripoli before proceeding with a national vote. Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, a rival of both al-Mishri and HoR speaker Aguila Saleh, currently leads the interim government. However, disagreements over election rules have led to a deadlock.

Prime Minister Dbeibah congratulated Mohammed Takala on his election, expressing hope that the new leader will respect the will of the Libyan people to hold elections. He has reiterated his commitment to remaining in office until after an election and has previously resisted armed attempts to remove him from power.

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Despite the international community’s call for elections, there are concerns that both the HoR and HSC might be reluctant to hold an election that could potentially diminish their authority.

As the situation in Libya unfolds, the eyes of the international community remain focused on the country’s political developments, with hopes for a resolution to the decade-long crisis through transparent and inclusive elections.