By George Grant.
Tripoli, 9 August:
Ali Zidan is leading the race to become speaker of the National Congress after the first round . . .[restrict]of voting, but his failure to win an outright majority means that final victory remains far from certain.
Shortly before 8pm this evening, Thursday, the Libya Herald was informed that Ali Zidan had won 80 votes, Mohammed Magarief 56 and Abdulrahman Sewehli 53.
Two other candidates, Jumma Ettef, an independent from Annasiriyah, and Suleiman Zubi, the renowned former head of the Benghazi local election commission and now an independent in the congress, won a handful of votes apiece. Ettef secured seven votes and Zubi just two.
Both Zidan and Magarief will now proceed through to a second round of voting, which is expected to be concluded before midnight.
Congress insiders have told this paper that the race between the two is neck-and-neck, with the next few hours set to be dominated by backroom dealing as both men vie to secure votes given to the eliminated candidates in the first round.
In spite of his preliminary success, it is thought Zidan may still be beaten by Magarief in the final vote as large numbers of Sewehli supporters transfer their votes to the leader of the National Front party.
Both Sewehli and Magarief are known to be working together to prevent the emergence of Zidan as victor, with the latter being seen as a shoe-in for Mahmoud Jibril.
Following the final result, voting will also take place to appoint two vice speakers, with a decision set to be made in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
It is understood that the candidates for these positions are separate from those running to be speaker, reducing the likelihood of the deputy positions being given to defeated speaker candidates as a consolation prize.