Middle East

Libya names 8 candidates for prime minister

Libya's Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib (C) speaks at a news conference in Tripoli September 5, 2012. (REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny)

TRIPOLI, Libya: Libya's parliament named eight candidates for the key prime minister post Thursday, including a secular politician who held the post for much of the fight against Moammar Gadhafi and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The new leader will be tasked with stabilizing the oil-rich North African nation, which remains deeply divided after the longtime dictator was killed during a brutal civil war.

Libya, which is awash with arms, is trying to build its institutions from scratch as Gadhafi ruled for four decades by himself without a legislature. The country faces an array of problems, including the need to build its police and military forces, disarm dozens of disparate and warring militias and appease eastern cities that have declared the east a semiautonomous region.

The list of candidates was announced Thursday by the media relations office of the National Assembly, or parliament, which itself was elected in July.

Among the top contenders for the post of prime minister is Mahmoud Jibril, who was a senior official and economist under Gadhafi until he joined sides with the rebels last year, serving as the wartime prime minister for almost eight months. Jibril is also the head of the liberal Alliance of National Forces coalition, which won the most seats allocated for parties in parliament in Libya's first free election in decades.

Another leading nominee is Mostafa Abu-Shakur, who currently serves as deputy to interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib. Abu-Shakur was said to have ties to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group in Libya but has insisted he is running as an independent. He lived for years in exile in the United States as a result of his opposition to Gadhafi's regime.

Abu-Shakur said in a telephone interview that Libya's new prime minister will have to address the country's security woes, improve the economy, address basic infrastructure problems in education and health care and work toward national reconciliation.

Also considered a front-runner for the post of prime minister is Awad el-Barasi, whose name was put forth and backed by the Justice and Construction Party, which is the main political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. He currently serves as minister of electricity.

The candidates were scheduled to present their platforms to the elected assembly next week ahead of a parliamentary vote on Sept. 13.





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