Power transfer in Libya

Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil (3rd left) and Libya”s Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib (4th left) attend a news conference by Nouri al-Alabbar, Chairman of the Electoral Commission National Congress, to announce the results of the Libyan General Assembly election in Tripoli July 17, 2012.

TRIPOLI — Libya’s ruling council handed over power to a newly elected national assembly yesterday in the North African country’s first peaceful transition of power in its modern history but which comes amid heightened violence.

In a late-night ceremony held under tight security in Tripoli, the National Transitional Council, political arm of the opposition forces that toppled Muammar Gaddafi a year ago, handed over to the national congress, elected in July.

NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil symbolically passed on the reins to the oldest member of the new 200-member assembly, Mohammed Ali Salim.

“The National Transitional Council hands over the constitutional duties for leading the state to the general national congress, which from now on is the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people,” Jalil said to loud cheers.

In a speech, Jalil, who announced he would retire after ending his NTC chief post, acknowledged “mistakes” had been made during an “extraordinary” transitional period and said security and disarmament issues had not been resolved in time.

The congress, whose members took an oath led by Salim, will now name a new chairman while the NTC will be disbanded. A first meeting was scheduled after the ceremony.

Large crowds gathered in Tripoli’s Martyrs Square to celebrate the handover as fireworks lit up the sky.

The assembly will name a new prime minister who will pick his government, pass laws and steer Libya to full parliamentary elections after a new constitution is drafted next year. (Reuters)

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