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July 08, 2012

Carter Center Observers Encouraged With Libya Vote

by Peter Clottey

An official of the U.S.-based Carter Center poll monitoring delegation said the group is pleased with the organization of Libya’s first election in over four decades.

Alexander Bick, field director of the Carter Center’s mission in Tripoli, said the poll observer group is encouraged by the level of participation by Libyan voters in the just ended poll.

“The High National Election Commission has really done a remarkable job," he said. "Many people were wondering, ‘Would Libya be able to hold elections on this very tight timeframe, just coming out of the conflict and with really no history of elections being practiced here.'"

“I can say with confidence that we’ve been very impressed with the performance of the electoral commission, by the organizational ability that they’ve shown, by their commitment to hold this election on time," said Bick. "The materials were largely delivered to all the polling places and even against quite challenging odds."

U.S. President Barack Obama hailed Libya’s first free election in decades, calling it another milestone in the country's transition to democracy.  In a statement late Saturday, Obama extended his congratulations to Libya on behalf of the American people.

Bick praised Libyans who voted in the election.

“Libyans showed the degree of enthusiasm that I don’t think I have seen anywhere else… registration here was a very successful process," he said. "On election day, people waited in line patiently and just showed a level of enthusiasm that I think is a model for the world."

"People were celebrating after the elections were finished, honking their horns, waving their Libyan flag and showing their fingers, which were marked with the ink that was used by the election’s commission to prevent double voting.  People waving their fingers with real pride and we are all heartened by that.”

Bick said the poll observer mission will hold a news conference Monday to announce its assessment of the election.  He said the Carter Center poll observers had “limited” access to all the areas it planned to monitor the election.

“There are some places in Libya that we weren’t able to deploy to and I think it’s important to say that that we can’t make a comprehensive assessment of what [took] place,” said Bick.
"Our observers have been sending in reports, their experience on Election Day and I think, in general, we’ve seen a lot of things we find very encouraging.”

Libya’s Electoral Commission put the turnout for Saturday's vote at about 60 percent.  Some analysts say results of the vote will be available later this week.

Officials say nearly three million Libyans registered to vote for members of a 200-seat National Assembly.  The winners will be charged with forming a temporary government and drafting a constitution ahead of full parliamentary elections next year.

Clottey intv with Alexander Bick, adirector at Carter Center’s mission in Tripoli