After eighteen months of transitional rule, the National Transitional Council (NTC) Chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil symbolically handed over power on 8 August to the oldest member of the new 200-member General National Congress (GNC), Mohammed Ali Salim. Libyan media reported a small controversy during the handover ceremony, when Islamist representative Salah Baadi walked out in protest over a young, unveiled woman making a speech.
Following the transfer of power, National Front Party (NFP) leader Mohammed Magarief was elected as the presiding member and de-facto leader of the new national assembly. His rival Ali Zeidan had won the first round of voting with 80 votes compared to Magarief’s 56 andUnion for the Homeland’s Abdul Rahman Swehli’s 53. However, in the two-round voting system, Magarief doubled his votes to 113 after gaining the majority of votes from Swehli’s supporters.
The failure of the National Forces Alliance (NFA) and the Justice and Construction Party (JCP) to advance their respective candidates – the independent Ali Zeidan and the Islamist aligned Abdul Rahman Swehli, highlighted the power of independents in the new assembly. However, it was the combined vote of the Islamists bloc and many of the independents in the second round of voting brought Magarief to victory. Though Magarief is seen by many as a moderate liberal, the true extent of his powers as the new head of state are yet to be determined. Following his election, Magarief resigned as the leader of the NFP in a symbolic gesture of unity and impartiality to the new assembly.