Tensions high as landmark Libyan elections begin
Libyans have begun to vote in the first election since Colonel Gaddafi was toppled, and in what is their first free election in over 50 years.
They are voting with the aim of electing a temporary 200-member assembly who will go on to select a cabinet and a Prime Minister. Candidates with religious agendas dominate the 3,700 hopefuls, leading to speculation that Libya will be the next country with religious parties dominating the political landscape after Egypt and Tunisia.
Polls opened at 8am local time, amidst violence as an electoral worker was killed after an attack by gunmen on a helicopter close to Benghazi. Some former rebels have also attempted to overthrow the vote by targeting the oil industry and shutting down up to five oil terminals.
Many Libyans have expressed doubts and concerns that the oil-rich East of the country will be under-represented in the assembly, as only 60 seats of the 200 are allocated to the area.
Fadlallah Haroun, a former rebel commander in the east of Libya, said: “We don’t want Tripoli to rule all of Libya.”
Many Libyans have expressed their joy as they cast their votes. Cheers went up in a polling station in Tripoli as the first woman cast her vote in a polling station in a converted school.
Voting for the first time, teacher Zainab Masri described her feelings on voting, saying: “I can’t describe the feeling. We paid the price; I have two martyrs in my family. I am certain the future will be good, Libya will be successful.”