News / Africa

Libya to Hold First Free Election in 60 Years

Al Pessin
TRIPOLI — Nearly three million Libyans have registered to vote in the country's first multi-party election in 60 years, set for Saturday.  They will choose among 1400 candidates for a 200-seat National Assembly that will form a temporary government and draft a constitution, leading to another election next year.

Nine months ago, Libyans were celebrating in a square in central Tripoli. They renamed it Martyrs' Square, in memory of the fighters who died in the revolution that ended 42 years of rule by Moammar Gadhafi.

Today, the square is busy with traffic and decorated with campaign posters for Saturday's election.

Tripoli cafes are buzzing about the election.  Student Amin Siyala is home for the summer from school in Britain.

“Stuff hasn't become suddenly a lot better. That's just truth right now. But obviously we know it will get better because there still needs to be time for the elections to happen and for a new government to come and bring change,” Siyala said.

Not far away, at a more traditional cafe next to a Roman ruin, several older men also want to talk politics. Mohammed al-Hadi bin-Noba says many Libyans don't really understand what they are voting for. But he says in a way that doesn't matter. “The election is of secondary importance compared with the blood that has been spilled to make the revolution a success,” he said.

There are still concerns about security, amid tribal clashes, fighting among militias formed for the revolution, and regional disputes about power sharing. An Amnesty International report this week says those problems must be brought under control.

British analyst Anthony Skinner, at the Maplecroft risk assessment firm, shares the concern, but he told VOA via Skype the overall trajectory in Libya is positive.

“It's inevitable that these various groups will want to ensure that their interests are protected. And they will continue to jockey for power. And unfortunately because of the level of armament and because the various militias have not been absorbed into the military, this will translate into further gun battles, I expect,” Skinner said.

But the problems are far from the minds of this family having a day out in Tripoli.

Dr. Mohammed Reda Mangoos and his wife Naima Al-Taher are excited about the vote, and the doctor remembers Libya's last free election in 1952. “That day, I was about six years old. I still remember, like a dream. There was voting in my city. I still remember, like a dream. Now, we are proud to see this again,” Mangoos said.

“It's enough for us that we see all the posters of the candidates all around, colors and faces from all kinds of personalities. It used to be just one picture of one man filled the whole area. You didn't see anyone but Gadhafi,” Al-Taher said.

There are more than 140 parties and small factions campaigning for the election, and hundreds of independent candidates. Islamists are expected to do well, as is a secular group of officials who were involved in last year's transition. But Libyans from all walks of life say the country will plot a moderate course regardless of who is elected.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: libya a muslim country from: libya
July 06, 2012 8:56 AM
libya is going for the better from now on the muslims will start to rise you like or not, sharia law is the new libya

by: Marty from: USA
July 06, 2012 12:39 AM
Here comes more Muslim Arab Winter...

by: Izzy Horowitz from: NYS
July 06, 2012 12:27 AM
"Libya to hold first free election" Anyone who believes free elections can happen in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or any middle eastern Moslem country also believes in the tooth fairy and their civility to Christians and Jews.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs