Ali Zeidan

Position: Prime minister, Libya

Biography: Mustafa Abushagur lasted less than a month as Libya’s first democratically elected prime minister. In making it past the end of the year, Ali Zeidan has outdone his predecessor, but a number of challenges await him. In mid-December 2012, Zeidan promised to shore up security along Libya’s borders and in the south, which has become increasingly lawless over the past year.

Even under Muammar Gaddaffi, swathes of southern Libya were only nominally under the control of Tripoli. As the assassination of US ambassador Christopher Stevens showed in September, the north is not without its troubles either, and Zeidan must work to fight Islamist groups active in the Maghreb.

The current administration is only temporary and one of its biggest tasks will be to work out a transparent, accountable mechanism to write a new constitution. Zeidan has accepted that sharia law will be part of the constitution, but he will also be mindful of events in neighbouring Egypt in 2011.