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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid