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Libyan governing body’s vote to replace its head could further fracture the country

CAIRO (AP) — One of Libya’s top governing bodies elected a new head on Sunday, in a development that could further fracture the country already split between two rival administrations.

Members of the Supreme Council of State, which is separate from both of the governments and is based in the capital of Tripoli, voted for Mohamed Takala to be the body’s new leader.

Takala would take over from former head Khaled el-Meshri, a powerful figure who had been key in negotiations over the country’s election laws.

Both the voting and count were live-streamed on local Libyan news channels. The final count was announced in favor of Takala, 67-62. The council did not immediately issue any statements on the outcome of the election.

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

The international community and the United Nations 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 to a set of election laws that would set the terms of that vote.

Libya has been torn by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi 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 commander Khalifa Hifter continues to hold sway in the country’s eastern region, from its main city of Benghazi. The Tripoli government is headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, and the Sirte-based administration, supported by the country’s House of Representatives, suspended its former Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha in May.

Takala, a politician from the city of Khoms and member of the council since it was formed in 2016, was congratulated on his victory by Dbeibah. He previously chaired the council’s committee for the development of economic and social projects.

The Associated Press


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