By MARGARET COKER
The Libyan National Transitional Council has chosen a Tripoli businessman to head the interim governing authority and help shepherd the country’s political transition from its Gadhafi-era dictatorship to its first elections.
Abdul Rahmin El Keeb won a simple majority of the votes cast by the 54 members of the NTC, beating out several other candidates who had been culled from the running after they lost in earlier rounds of voting Monday evening.
Mr. Elkeeb spent many years in exile outside Libya, but played a significant role in financing the revolt against Moammar Gadhafi and organizing the underground rebellion inside Tripoli this summer, when the capital was struggling to shake off the tight grip of the regime’s troops and intelligence agents.
He will take the place of Mahmoud Jibril, who has headed the rebel-led governing authority throughout the revolt and is credited with receiving foreign recognition for the NTC and building tight relationships between the NTC and North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.
Mr. Elkeeb is expected to form a new cabinet in coming days, while the NTC legislative body discusses a formula to expand its ranks from its current number to at least 70 members, according to Libyan officials.
The NTC is now in a period of expansion, bringing in representatives from all parts of Libya, including areas of the country that won independence from the Gadhafi regime early in the struggle that began in February and areas that were the last to fall, such as the former ruler’s hometown of Sirte, which the NTC fighters gained control of only two weeks ago.
Mr. Jibril, the departing prime minister, has suggested increasing the size of the legislative body to 120 members to include both regional representatives as well as officials from key segments of society, such as women, young people and the military councils that control security in each Libyan municipality.