Tripoli - Libya's national congress is to elect on Wednesday a new prime minister who will be at the helm of the nation for an 18-month transition period and faces the daunting task of restoring security.
The General National Congress (GNC) must choose between eight candidates including Mahmud Jibril, who led a transitional council during last year's revolution which toppled Muammar Gaddafi and now heads the liberal National Forces Alliance, and Electricity Minister Awadh al-Barassi, an Islamist.
Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur is also a candidate to succeed the current transitional prime minister, Abdel Rahim al-Kib.
The vote for the new premier will be held among the 200 members of the country's national assembly that was itself elected in early July.
The aspiring leaders pitched their programmes to the GNC on Monday and Tuesday during 45-minute question and answer sessions which were broadcast live on television.
The candidates presented polices and fielded questions that focused primarily on security and the reintegration of former rebels who fought against the regime of slain leader Gaddafi.
The formation of a national army and a professional police force along with border security were the cornerstones of the programmes presented. Candidates also touched on the key theme of national reconciliation.
On the economic and social front, they discussed the elimination of food and fuel subsidies, how to raise income levels and provide affordable housing.
Since the ouster of Gaddafi’s regime and the declaration of "liberation" on October 2011, the transitional government was only responsible for managing daily affairs.
The United Nations said in a report received by AFP on Tuesday that "public security in Libya will be enhanced only if the new government makes significant efforts to implement nationally owned security sector reforms".
It also urged the new authorities to form a "new government that is inclusive, broadly participatory and enjoys the support of the Libyan people".
"Progress in this regard will allow for immediate challenges to be tackled effectively, including the difficult process of building strong, accountable and modern state institutions, the collection of arms and the integration of revolutionaries into security institutions."
"This will help to put the country on the path towards democracy, national reconciliation and long-term stability," read the report.
Jibril's National Forces Alliance, a coalition of some 60 small parties formed by the architects of the 2011 revolt that toppled Gaddafi, holds 39 out of 80 seats reserved for parties in the congress.
The Justice and Construction Party, spawned by Libya's Muslim Brotherhood, is the second strongest force in the assembly, with 17 seats.
The other 120 seats are held by independent candidates whose political vision and loyalties remain a question mark.
The vote for a prime minister will help measure the influence of each bloc on the assembly, although independents also fielded their own candidates, such as Abdel Hamid al-Naami, head of the small Libyan Centre party.
The main tasks facing the new administration will be to tackle rampant security problems and reconstruct sectors of the oil-rich country damaged in last year's conflict.