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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs