Libya election: Count under way after historic vote

Posted by on Jul 08, 2012 | Comments Off on Libya election: Count under way after historic vote

 

Vote-counting is under way after Libya held its first free national election for 60 years on Saturday.

Fireworks were set off in the capital Tripoli and the second city, Benghazi, after voting ended on Saturday evening.

The election was largely peaceful, but there were pockets of unrest in the east, where there are fears the region will be under-represented in the new temporary assembly being elected.

Early results suggested a turnout of about 60%, officials said.

The new 200-member assembly will have the task of picking a cabinet and a prime minister, in what will be the first elected government since Col Gaddafi came to power in 1969.

Electoral officials said they expected results to start emerging on Monday.

US President Barack Obama said the election was “another milestone” in Libya’s political transformation.

“On behalf of the American people, I extend my congratulations to the people of Libya for another milestone on their extraordinary transition to democracy,” he said.

The BBC’s Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, says the outcome is difficult to predict, as more than 100 parties are competing, many of them formed only in recent months.

The most prominent party to emerge so far is the Justice and Construction Party, made up mostly of Muslim Brotherhood members.

The last fully free parliamentary election was held soon after independence in 1952. The last national vote was held in 1965, when no political parties were allowed.

Disruption

Voting began late in some cities where gunmen disrupted voting in several locations, including in Ras Lanouf, Brega and Ajdabiya – all in eastern Libya. One person was killed in a shooting near a polling station in Ajdabiya.

Despite the unrest, officials said voting had taken place in more than 98% of polling stations at some point on Saturday.

Many people in eastern Libya are concerned that the oil-rich area will be under-represented in the assembly and marginalised, as it was under Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.

The region has been allotted only 60 seats in the 200-seat assembly, while the west will have 100 seats and the south 40, under the system devised by the outgoing National Transitional Council (NTC).

Oil shutdown

Some former rebels tried to derail the vote by targeting the oil industry, large parts of which are located in the east.

They have shut down several oil terminals, including those at Brega, Ras Lanouf and Sidra, and a significant part of Libya’s oil exporting capacity has been disrupted.

In an attempt to defuse the situation, the NTC has said the new parliament will no longer be responsible for naming the panel that will draft Libya’s new constitution.

The 60-member committee will be elected in a separate vote at a later date.

Around 2.9 million people are eligible to vote for the 2,600 candidates standing for the new General National Congress, less than a year after Col Gaddafi was toppled after an eight-month uprising.

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