TRIPOLI — The head of Libya’s newly-empowered national assembly Mohamed Al-Megaryef pledged Friday to remain neutral and seek to unite ranks in the country, where post-revolution divisions are still deep.
“My main duty is to stand aside, away from political, regional and tribal considerations,” Megaryef said as he presided over the first official meeting of the General National Congress.
Speaking just a day after he was elected head of the 200-seat assembly, Megaryef, who is seen as pro-Islamist, announced that he will quit as president of the Libyan National Salvation Front.
Megaryef, a veteran opponent of slain Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi’s ousted regime, defeated liberal independent Ali Zidane in a run-off by 113 votes to 85.
He said he will keep an “equal distance” with all members of the assembly and called for a broad national dialogue involving politicians and members of civil society, including those outside the legislative body.
He also underlined the need to “remain close to the people” and suggested that all meetings of the assembly be broadcast live on Libyan television.
“Of course there will be differences of opinion. But we must exchange views in order to reach common agreement for the supreme interest of the nation,” he said.
“The Congress has a huge and important responsibility,” said Megaryef, adding that Libya was at an “important and dangerous” crossroad in its history.
Thursday’s vote in the assembly, elected in landmark polls on July 7, came after the National Transitional Council handed over power Wednesday, in a symbolic move marking the first peaceful transition in Libya’s modern history after four decades of Gaddafi’s iron-fisted rule. The assembly is tasked with choosing an interim government that will steer the country until fresh elections can be held under a new constitution to be drafted by a panel of 60 members.
Its new president is an economist with a doctorate from Britain, who held leading posts in the Gaddafi regime in the 1970s before defecting in 1980 to join the opposition in exile.
He was a founding member of the Salvation Front, which grouped exiled opponents of Kadhafi.
Hounded by Gaddafi’s intelligence service, Megaryef survived assassination attempts in Rome in 1981, in Casablanca in 1984 and in Madrid in 1985, his daughter Asma said. The Gaddafi regime took reprisals against family members, jailing several of his brothers. — AFP