Libya's Supreme Council elects new leader, causing political uncertainty

Libya's Supreme Council of State is one of the politically fractured country's top governing bodies

A picture taken on January 20, 2020, shows a view of Martyr's square in the Libyan capital Tripoli. A peaceful solution to Libya's protracted conflict remains uncertain despite an international agreement struck in Germany, analysts say, as a fragile ceasefire between warring factions brought only a temporary truce. / AFP / Mahmud TURKIA
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Libya's Supreme Council of State elected a new leader on Sunday, in a development that could further fracture a country already split between two rival administrations.

Separate from both governments and based in the capital of Tripoli, members of one of the country's top governing bodies voted for Mohamed Takala to become its new leader.

Mr Takala will take over from former head Khaled El-Meshri, a powerful figure who had been key in negotiations over the country's election laws.

The voting and count were streamed live on local Libyan news channels. The final count was 67 to 62 in favour of Mr Takala.

The council did not immediately issue any statements about the outcome of the election.

The introduction of a new leader at the helm of a key political institution could add more uncertainty to the country's already deeply divided politics.

The international community and the UN have repeatedly said that nationwide elections are key to ending the country's decade-long power vacuum.

But for years, rival leaders have failed to agree on election laws that would set the terms of that vote.

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Libya has been torn by conflict since a Nato-backed uprising toppled and killed long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

The country was then for years split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.

Its is now divided between two administrations, one in Tripoli and one operating in Sirte, and a House of Representatives based in the eastern city of Tobruk.

The powerful Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar continues to hold sway in the country's eastern region, from its main city of Benghazi.

The Tripoli government is led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, and the Sirte-based administration, supported by the country's House of Representatives, suspended former prime minister Fathi Bashagha in May.

It is unclear what positions Mr Takala, a politician from the city of Khoms and member of the council since it was formed in 2016, will take on key political issues.

But he was congratulated on his victory by Mr Dbeibah.

He previously chaired the council’s committee for the development of economic and social projects.

Updated: August 06, 2023, 10:07 PM