by Xinhua Writers Zhang Xin, Cai Yang, Ahmed Isagizli
TRIPOLI, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Libya's outgoing National Transitional Council (NTC) will hand over power in four weeks after the national congress is elected, the council's deputy chairman Salem Gnan said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.
"The NTC will transfer power to the general national congress on August 6 or 8, roughly four weeks from now," Gnan made it clear, adding that the congress will be totally free to perform its duties.
Libya's national congress election kicked off Saturday morning and was hailed as a milestone on the path toward democracy after the months-long civil war that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The NTC, which was established during last year's civil war and is currently ruling the North African country, will be officially dismissed after the results of the election are announced.
The 200-member congress is expected to replace the ruling NTC to supervise the government and oversee experts to draw up a new constitution.
"The congress will have the right to change all transitional decisions made by the NTC and work to oversee drafting the new constitution," said Gnan, who made a frank admission that the current 102-member NTC would make decisions faster and easier if it was streamlined as consisting of about 15 members.
Two-fifths of seats in the new parliament will be reserved for political parties and groups that were banned under Gaddafi's rule, according to the final draft of the country's election law published early February. The rest will be allocated to independent candidates.
Gnan, served as a lawyer before joining the NTC, explained that "People with different ideologies in the legislative body will negotiate and share their ideas to establish the constitution."
"We respect people's choice. Any fairly elected political group or party is welcome as long as it has popular support. We will never go back to former regime's practices," he emphasized.
Libya's once interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril's National Forces Alliance (NFA) has taken the lead in the polls with over 200,000 votes in seven constituencies, according to the preliminary results announced Monday and Tuesday.
Labelled "liberal," the political coalition led by Jibril, a western-educated political scientist seems to beat its Islamist rivals, represented by Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party, in the first election in post-Gaddafi Libya.
"The election in Libya was as crowning to martyrs and their blood in the fight for freedom," Gnan said, adding that "the whole world cast doubt that the Libyan elections may fail because of weapon spread, but the Libyan people challenged and won."
A total of 374 political entities and 2,639 individual candidates have contested in the election. "The elections in all Libyan cities were carried out smoothly, except small problems in Ajdabya and Kofran that will be solved sooner Insha'a Allah (God willing)," the deputy chairman added.
Before the polls, analysts deemed that tough security challenges and tendency of federalism in the eastern region will leave an open question whether the landmark election will pull off without a hitch.
However, as high as 98 percent of polling stations ran smoothly except for some sporadic violent disruptions, according to statistics published by the High National Electoral Commission.
"The whole world was surprised by this, and the observers said we couldn't remark any mistake in these elections," the NTC official said.
"Rebels are still carrying weapons to protect the country, and they will give weapons back when they feel the country is safe and stable," he said, referring to the widely concerned issue of weapon spread. "We will build strong police and national army."
Regarding the demand of autonomy in the east, Gnan said that " there is no place for federalism in Libya, unless it is the aspiration of all Libyan people."
"All Libyan share in blood, we can't be divided," he underlined.
UN Security Council hails first national elections in Libya in more than 40 years
UNITED NATIONS, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the July 7 elections in Libya, the first national elections in the North African country in more than 40 years, as "a milestone for Libya's democratic transition."
The 15-nation council, in a press statement issued here late Tuesday, said that the council members "welcome the holding on 7 July 2012 of the first national elections in Libya in nearly half a century. The members of the Security Council consider the elections a milestone for Libya's democratic transition." Full story
Special Report: Situation in Libya