News / Africa

Libyans Hold Emotional Multi-Party Election, First in 60 Years

Libyan men hold their elections ID cards while celebrating election day in Tripoli, Saturday, July 7, 2012.
Libyan men hold their elections ID cards while celebrating election day in Tripoli, Saturday, July 7, 2012.
Al Pessin
TRIPOLI, Libya — Libyans filled with optimism went to the polls Saturday for their nation's first multi-party elections in 60 years.  It was an emotional moment for people who have lived through 42 years of dictatorship and a bloody revolution.

Many young men were fighting the forces of Moammar Gaddhafi just nine months ago. Today, some of those same young men were presiding over a raucous intersection of celebratory horn honking, as Libyans headed to and from the voting stations.

At one school in a working-class neighborhood, women celebrated and showed off their ink-stained fingers, evidence that they had voted. Inside what is usually the school's computer room, procedures were followed with precision and respect.

Recent university graduate Farah Moterdy, 23, was among those waiting their turns.

“My heart is beating quickly and I'm very happy and I wish that my vote makes change," she said.

Islamists are expected to do well in the election but the aspiring English teacher said she would not be voting for them, fearing they would try to restrict women's rights.

“Yesterday I was crying when I see the pictures of the people who are in the election,” Moterdy said. “Who will we choose of them? We want to make the future for Libya. It depends on us. This is what I know. It depends on us.”


​Libya got an unexpected visitor for the election - U.S. Senator John McCain, who was an early advocate of the NATO intervention that helped defeat Gaddhafi.

“Already we started early at the polls and we observed the people who enthusiastically have exercised the fundamental right of people if you’re going to have a democracy and that is a fair election," he said. "There were some problems in the eastern part of the country. I’ve been informed that most of those problems have been resolved.”

There was some anti-election violence in the eastern city of Benghazi, where the revolt started a year-and-a-half ago, but the voting continued. Some militias and tribes want more regional autonomy and more clout in the central government.

Libya's Uprising to Elections

  • Feb. 2011: Protests erupt after a human rights campaigner is arrested in Benghazi
  • Mar. 2011: U.N. Security Council authorizes no-fly zone over Libya
  • Aug. 2011: Rebels take Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli
  • Oct. 20, 2011: Gadhafi is killed, days later the National Transitional Council declares Libya liberated
  • Jan. 2012: Clashes erupt between former rebel forces in Benghazi
  • Mar. 2012: NTC officials in Benghazi campaign for regional autonomy
  • Jun. 2012: Government struggles to ensure security, postpones election until July
Back at the school in Tripoli, men waited patiently for their turns. They are among nearly three million people registered to vote, about 80 percent of those eligible. The voters are choosing among more than 3,700 candidates for 200 seats in a National Assembly that will form an interim government and write a new constitution.

“I feel free. I can smell it. I can land at the airport without any fear,” said businessman  Suleiman Giornazi.
 
Like many voters, Giornazi could hardly speak about the election without getting emotional. And he said he is not worried about the violence in the east or continuing unrest in some other parts of the country.

“Nothing bothers me,” he said. “The only thing that bothers me is Gadhafi, and he's gone. And we will be all right. This is hiccups and doesn't mean nothing to us. We for sure will get over it.”

His optimism was shared around the capital, as Libyans of all ages put their country's problems aside and celebrated the simple but hard-fought triumph of their first post-revolution election day.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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