July 7, 2012 ·0 Comments
Election officials work at a polling station in Tripoli on Friday, July 6, 2012. Libya goes to the country’s first free election since 1969 on Saturday. AP.
AS LIBYA and Morocco battled it out in the final of the Arab Nations Cup on the eve of Libya’s historic national election, locals gathered in huge groups on the streets or stayed glued to television screens indoors, surging forward with every goal and collapsing with every miss.
Although Libya lost in the penalty shootout, people beamed with pride – who would have thought Libya would make it to the finals, many said, with one commentator wryly noting the team seemed to be flourishing now it was free of Gaddafi.
Many were hoping the country’s remarkable run in the soccer – the finals loss notwithstanding – would continue with its first national election in more than five decades.
With voter registration as high as 80 per cent, and lists of candidates numbering 2562, Libyans went to the polls yesterday to vote in a 200-member congress to replace the National Transitional Council.
At the Al Marsa fish market on Tripoli’s sparkling blue harbour, talk of the election and the revolution that preceded it was based around one central hope – that the new government would draw Libya back from the brink after a year of disunity and militia violence.
Fadi Mohamed Fayed, 38, predicted the election would be ”100 per cent good – only those who supported Gaddafi will tell you anything negative”.
Standing behind his small sardine stall – named February 17 after the date that marked the start of the revolution that ousted Colonel Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years in power – Mr Fayed said the election would bring justice and a fresh start.
The public has grown increasingly frustrated with the interim governing bodies, the Project on Middle East Democracy noted in a briefing on the elections. Widely viewed as poorly managing the transition, particularly rebuilding security, the transitional council is seen as lacking transparency and accountability. And it is this mistrust, along with a push for more autonomy in the resource-rich east, that has led to the instability plaguing Benghazi in the election lead-up.
Along with attacks on the election commission in Benghazi, diplomatic convoys have come under fire, and on Friday, militia attacked a helicopter carrying election materials, killing one passenger. Armed men also forced the closure of five oil facilities in eastern Libya in protest over not being granted more seats in the elections.
But as hard as the militia in the restive eastern city threaten to sabotage Libya’s first elections since 1965, so, too, do the citizens push back.
”We will never surrender, we will vote or die,” read a handwritten note pasted on a car window in Benghazi, the picture proudly posted on Facebook.
Election results for the assembly are expected to be released by Thursday.
Sydney Morning Herald
July 7, 2012Follow @somalilandpress
By Sahra Farah