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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora