News / Africa

    Libyans Slow to Vote for New Parliament

    • People help a voter place his ballot paper into the box at a polling station inside a school in Tripoli, June 25, 2014.
    • An official helps a voter find his name before voting inside a school in Tripoli, June 25, 2014.
    • A man dips his finger in ink before casting his vote during a parliamentary election, in Al Bayda, Libya, June 25, 2014.
    • Election officials prepare for the vote in Tripoli June 24, 2014.
    • Election officials carry ballot boxes in a school ahead of elections in Tripoli, June 24, 2014.
    • An election official passes a voter registration board inside a school in Tripoli, June 24, 2014.
    • Election officials work inside a school ahead of elections in Tripoli, June 24, 2014.
    Reuters

    Barely 13 percent of Libyan voters went to the polls by noon on Wednesday to elect a new parliament that officials hope will help restore order three years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

    Fresh fighting in the eastern city of Benghazi, part of the growing turmoil in the oil-producing country, overshadowed the vote. Residents reported explosions and a military plane firing  in an area where forces of a renegade general and Islamist militants clash regularly.

    Turnout was widely expected to be much lower than in July 2012, the first free national vote in more than 40 years. Some 1.5 million voters registered, roughly half the 2.8 million on the rolls in 2012, after registration rules were tightened.

    By noon, only 200,000 had cast their vote, election officials said, blaming hot weather.

    Libya is still struggling to make its transition into a stable democracy after four decades of one-man rule. The country has slid deeper into chaos since the renegade army general Khalifa Haftar opened a campaign against Islamists in the east.

    Live cameras from Libyan news channels showed mostly empty polling stations. Officials planned to release more turnout figures in the evening and full results are not expected until later this week.

    Some polling stations stayed shut for security reasons in the eastern Islamist hotspot of Derna, Kufra in the southeast where tribes regularly clash, and the main southern city of Sabha, officials said.

    Libya struggles

    Without a functioning government and parliament, Libya is struggling to impose authority over heavily-armed former rebels, militias and tribes that helped oust Gadhafi but who now defy state authority and carve out their own fiefdoms.

    Libya also has a budget crisis. Protests at oilfields and shipping ports by armed militias have reduced oil production, the country's lifeline, to a trickle.

    Tripoli's partners in the West hope the vote will help it to begin rebuilding a viable state. Its nascent army, still in training, is no match for fighters hardened during the eight-month uprising against Gadhafi.

    Many Libyans fear the vote will produce just another interim assembly. A special body to draft a new national constitution has still not finished its work, leaving questions over what kind of political system Libya will eventually adopt.

    To discourage political infighting between parties, which paralyzed decision-making and led to a crisis over two rival prime ministers in May, candidates must run as independents rather than as party representatives.

    “I am participating again to vote for the House of Representatives so we can rebuild Libya,” said Munira Ashour, a female teacher. “I didn't vote for any congressional members who had nominated themselves again because they have had their chances without making any progress.”

    In Tripoli, former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan made a surprise appearance to cast his vote after returning from Europe, where he had fled when parliament ousted him in March.

    “We hope the elections will achieve their goals and that the House of Representatives will make a new start, better than the past,” he told Reuters.

    Benghazi fighting

    In Benghazi, polling stations opened despite clashes breaking out in one district where Haftar and Islamists often clash. Details were not immediately available.

    Divisions need to be bridged between Libya's west, once favored by Gadhafi, and the neglected east where many demand autonomy and a greater share of the nation's oil wealth.

    The vast desert country has several power centers. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, rooted in rural western coastal cities, is vying with tribal areas in both the west and east for control of the oil producer.

    Electoral authorities tightened registration rules by requiring voters to show a national identification number, which many Libyans lack given the collapse of state services.

    The new parliament will again be made up of 200 seats, but will be called the House of Representatives. Thirty-two seats are allocated to women.

    Around 1,600 candidates were on the ballot, about 1,000 fewer than in the previous parliamentary vote. Some candidates put up street posters or platforms on social media, but the announcement of the election a month ago left little time before voting began, and there has been no real campaigning. 

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora