Libya's ruling council handed over power to a newly elected national assembly on Wednesday in the North African country's first peaceful transition of power in its modern history but which comes amid heightened violence.
In a late-night ceremony held under tight security in Tripoli, the National Transitional Council (NTC), political arm of the opposition forces that toppled Muammar Gaddafi a year ago, handed over to the national congress, elected in July.
NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil symbolically passed on the reins to the oldest member of the new 200-member assembly, Mohammed Ali Salim.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated Libya on the transition of power:
"I want to congratulate the Libyan people on the seating of the democratically elected General National Congress. Less than one year after an entrenched, brutal dictatorship, the Libyan people are writing a new chapter in their history.
"This parliament has important work ahead as it faces the challenges of building democratic institutions and ensuring the drafting of a new constitution through a transparent process, protecting the universal rights of all Libyans, promoting accountable and honest government, and establishing security throughout the country. The United States stands ready to work with the Libyan people during this historic time."
Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt called it a landmark day for Libya:
"Today is another landmark in the transition from brutal dictatorship to political representation in Libya. As a Minister and a Parliamentarian, I am proud of the role the UK has played in supporting the Libyan people in their struggle to have their democratic voice heard.
"We look forward to the new Congress rapidly electing its Leader, and thereafter appointing a new Prime Minister and government who will help realise the Libyan people’s ambitions for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic country.”
(Sources: US State Dept, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Reuters)