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Libya names Tripoli engineer as new prime minister

Libya's interim leadership has chosen an electronics engineer from Tripoli as the country's new prime minister.
/ Source: news services

Libya's interim leadership has chosen an electronics engineer from Tripoli as the country's new prime minister.

Abdel-Rahim al-Keeb was chosen Monday by 51 members of the National Transitional Council and will appoint a new Cabinet in coming days. The new government is to run Libya in the coming months and to pave the way for general elections.

"This transition period has its own challenges. One thing we will be doing is working very closely with the NTC and listening to the Libyan people," al-Keeb said after the NTC vote.

"We salute and remember the revolutionaries who we will never forget. We will not forget their families," he said. "I say to them that the NTC did not and will not forget them and also the coming government will do the same," he added.

Jalal el-Gallal, an NTC spokesman, said al-Keeb received 26 votes. He said the NTC wanted to form a new interim government after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi because its initial members started out as an impromptu group.

The NTC has promised to hold elections after eight months for a national assembly that will spend a year drawing up a new constitution before a parliamentary poll.

Meanwhile, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday hailed the end of the alliance's military intervention in Libya.

"It's great to be in Libya, free Libya," Rasmussen told a news conference in the capital Tripoli. "We acted to protect you. Together we succeeded. Libya is finally free, from Benghazi to Brega, from Misrata to the Western Mountains and to Tripoli."

He said he was proud of the part NATO had played in the seven-month insurgency against Gadhafi, in which NATO planes and ships turned their firepower on his forces.

Despite Rasmussen's depiction of the mission, the NATO intervention caused sharp rifts in the alliance and lasted much longer than Western nations had expected or wanted.

NATO stuck to its decision to end the operation despite NTC calls for it to stay engaged longer and says it does not expect to play a major post-war role, though it could assist the transition to democracy by helping with security sector reform.

NATO took over the mission on March 31, based on a United Nations mandate that set a no-fly zone over Libya and permitted foreign military forces, including NATO, to use "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians.

That mandate was terminated last Thursday, despite a request for the U.N. Security Council to wait for the NTC to decide if it wanted NATO help to secure its borders.

The mission was criticised by some countries, notably Russia and China, which, after co-sponsoring the U.N. resolution authorising intervention in Libya, accused NATO of overstepping its mandate to protect civilians.

NATO allies have been keen to see a quick conclusion to a costly effort that has involved more than 26,000 air sorties and round-the-clock naval patrols at a time when budgets are under severe strain because of the global economic crisis.

But NATO officials said members of the alliance are free to give further security aid to Libya individually.