BEIRUT

Middle East

New parliament elects east Libya jurist as speaker

Lawmakers from Libya's newly elected House of Representatives attend their first meeting session in Tobruk August 2, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

TRIPOLI: Libya's new parliament has elected Aguila Salah Issa, a jurist from the eastern town of Al-Qobba, as its speaker at a session held far from the clashes rocking Tripoli.

Libyan television showed Issa, an independent who held several judicial posts in the regime of Moammar Gadhafi who was ousted in a 2011 revolt, beating off eight challengers Monday.

The political newcomer defeated Abu Bakr Biira, who had presided over parliament's inaugural session, in a runoff.

The anti-Islamist parliament, elected on June 25, traveled all the way to Tobruk, 1,500 kilometers from Tripoli, to take the oath.

MPs said more than 160 of the 188 elected members were present in Tobruk - a figure that reflects the crushing election victory of nationalists over Islamists who dominated the former parliament.

Tobruk has been largely spared the deadly violence that has been rocking Tripoli and Libya's second city Benghazi since last month.

State television broadcast footage of the session, showing MPs being sworn in at a ceremony attended by representatives of the Arab League, the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Islamist MPs and their allies from the western city of Misrata boycotted the Tobruk ceremony held at a heavily guarded hotel, branding it "anti-constitutional."

But world powers congratulated the new parliament and voiced hope that lawmakers would be able to restore stability to Libya and press ahead with democratic reform.

 

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