Abdel Rahim al-Keib has been appointed as Libya’s new interim prime minister, replacing the previous incumbent Mahmoud Jibril, who had pledged to stand down once the conflict was over.

Al-Keib won 26 out of 51 votes in a National Transitional Council (NTC) election to take up the position. He saw off competition from candidates who included interim oil minister Ali Tarhouni and Idriss Abu Fayed, a Gaddafi opponent who was imprisoned by the former ruler’s regime.

He is expected to elect a new cabinet within two weeks. “We said we would (elect a cabinet) a month from the liberation. We have two weeks left and we intend to meet that deadline,” he told news service Al Jazeera.

His appointment is significant, because it follows through on a promise made by the NTC during the civil war that it would quickly elect a new leader. Mahmoud Jibril had said throughout the fighting that he intended to stand down quickly once the war was over. Libya was officially declared liberated on 23 October, three days after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, after he was captured and shot in Sirte.  

Al-Keib has said he will tackle human rights abuses as a priority. He must also push forward with the disarmament of rebels in the country and oversee Libya’s move towards democracy. The NTC has said it will hold elections around June next year for its 200-seat national conference. The members then have one month to choose a prime minister. Wider, multi-party elections are expected to take place in 2013.

Abdel Rahim Al-Keib is a Tripoli-based, US-educated academic and businessman, trained in electrical engineering. He lived and taught for many years in the US, and later in the UAE, before setting up his own company, called International Company for Energy and Technology, in Libya in 2005.