TRIPOLI – International observers declared Libya’s landmark national assembly election a success yesterday, concluding that violent incidents and anti-vote protests in the restive east failed to stop Libyans from turning out in large numbers.
The United Nations, United States and other Western backers of last year’s uprising that ended the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi have already given good marks to what was the North African state’s first free national election in six decades.
‘It is remarkable that nearly all Libyans cast their ballot free from fear or intimidation,’ Alexander Graf Lambsdorff of the European Union Assessment Team told a news conference.
‘These incidents do not put into question the national integrity of the elections as a whole,’ he said, alluding to cases of thefts and burnings of ballot boxes and protests by demonstrators seeking more autonomy for the east of the country. Two people were reported killed in the unrest.
The EU team toured half a dozen major cities including the capital Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi, the fount of the uprising, but did not go to the desert south, where security remains precarious because of tribal clashes.
The U.S.-based Carter Center said its 45-strong observation team was also absent from the south and acknowledged that its operation for Saturday’s election had been somewhat limited.
‘Eleven months after the building on a new nation, there are bound to be spoilers ... Libyans determined to continue with the voting process is what gives us hope for the future,’ said John Stremlau, Carter Center vice-president of peace programmes.
Nearly 1.8 million of 2.8 million registered voters cast their ballots, a turnout of around 65 percent, authorities said. Official results were to be published district by district later on Monday. Local media have suggested that a party bloc led by wartime prime minister Mahmoud Jibril is leading Islamic groups such as the political wing of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood. – Nampa/Reuters