Libya’s national assembly elected Nouri Abusahmain, a member of the Amazigh, or Berber, minority as its new president on Tuesday, a televised vote showed.
The previous head of the assembly, Mohammed Magarief, stepped down after a law was enacted banning anyone who held a senior post under Muammar Gaddafi from government, regardless whether they had played a role in toppling him.
Abusahmain won 96 votes to opponent Al-Sharif al-Wafi’s 80. A native of the western coastal town of Zuwara, Abusahmain, whose Berber language Gaddafi suppressed, has worked in the congress’s presidential office. He studied law and worked in a major petrochemicals plant near his hometown.
As congress president, he will lead the body in preparing for the drafting of a new constitution, after elections are held to choose a new constitutional committee.
He takes up his post amid an escalation in violence in the north African oil producer. Six soldiers were killed on Tuesday when gunmen attacked a checkpoint south of the coastal city of Sirte.
“Abusahmain has a good character and has worked well with all the parties,” congress member Ibrahim Ghariani said. “He may be the right person to lead the GNC at this current time.”