Libya votes for first time in 40 years
A Misrata resident casts his ballot during local council elections.Residents of the battle-scarred town of Misrata voted yesterday to elect a local council, in Libya’s first polls in more than 40 years, four months after the killing of Moammar Gadhafi.
“This is an historic event. We hope these elections will be an example” for the rest of Libya, the president of the port city’s electoral commission, Mohammed Balrouin, told Agence France-Presse. He said it was “a dress rehearsal for the upcoming vote” to be held nationwide in June to elect a constituent assembly.
Misrata residents were electing 28 council members from a field of 242 candidates. Some 101,486 people were registered to cast their ballots, from 156,000 eligible voters, in a city with a population of 281,000, said Balrouin.
“Our goal was to have a turnout of more than 30 percent. I believe we’re almost there,” he said. Yesterday was declared a public holiday in Misrata, both for the election and to commemorate the date, exactly a year ago, when the city rose up against the regime of Gadhafi who banned elections as an “invention of the West.” The city was besieged for several months by Gadhafi’s forces.