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UN Calls Libyan Election 'Extraordinary Achievement'

  • Larry Freund

An electronic board in Tripoli displays partial results from one constituency after Saturday's national assembly elections in Libya, July 9, 2012.
UNITED NATIONS — The top United Nations official in Libya has called Saturday’s election in that country an extraordinary achievement.

The special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General in Libya, Ian Martin, said the mood in Libya is extremely positive, with people taking enormous pride in having voted after nearly half a century.

Martin spoke from Tripoli with reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York via a video link as voting results continued to be reported after Saturday’s elections. Partial and preliminary vote counts are giving the lead to an alliance of parties led by the former rebel prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril.

Martin said the success of the electoral process should not blind anyone to what he called the enormous challenges that still lie ahead. “But it’s a critical first step in Libya’s democratic transition, which has gone better than I think almost anybody in the international community or the international media expected,” he said

Asked about Mahmoud Jibril’s call for a national dialogue and coalition, the U.N. official said he will watch for the reaction of other Libyan political forces.

“But certainly it will be very positive if the different political groupings agreed to work together during the constitutional process, but also in reaching agreement on the formation of a new government, because the electoral system will, I think, produce diverse representation from around the country,” Martin said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, congratulated Libya for its elections and praised Libya’s High National Election Commission and electoral staff for ensuring what Mr. Ban described as well conducted and transparent polling.

U.N. official Ian Martin said the overall tabulation of the Libyan election results is going to take some time. The new 200-seat national assembly will be responsible for forming a temporary government and drafting a new constitution for the country.