First Published: 2012-02-20

 

First Libya polls in 40 years: Misrata votes to elect local council

 

Residents of battle-scarred town of Misrata are voting to elect 28 local council members from field of 242 candidates.

 

Middle East Online

Scene banned under Gathafi

MISRATA (Libya) - Residents of the battle-scarred town of Misrata voted on Monday to elect a local council, in Libya's first polls in more than 40 years, four months after the killing of Moamer Gathafi.

"This is an historic event. We hope these elections will be an example" for the rest of Libya, the president of the port city's electoral commission, Mohammed Balrouin, said.

He said it was "a dress rehearsal for the upcoming vote" to be held nationwide in June to elect a constituent assembly.

Misrata residents were electing 28 council members from a field of 242 candidates. Some 101,486 people were registered to cast their ballots, from 156,000 eligible voters, in a city with a population of 281,000, said Balrouin.

By midday, the election official put the turnout at between 30 and 60 percent. "Our goal was to have a turnout of more than 30 percent. I believe we're almost there," he said.

Monday was declared a public holiday in Misrata, both for the election and to commemorate the date, exactly a year ago, when the city rose up against the regime of Gathafi who banned elections as an "invention of the West."

The "city of martyrs" in Libya's revolution was besieged for several months by Gathafi's forces and suffered some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict.

"Today we are tasting freedom and democracy. Thank God, the blood of the martyrs was not spilt in vain," said Fama al-Shawesh, a 19-year-old student, waving blue ink on a finger to show she had voted.

At a polling station in the city centre, voters entered a private cubicle to select their candidate. After casting their ballot, they were made to dip a finger in indelible blue ink, in a bid to prevent people from voting twice.

The count was to begin after the end of voting at 8:00 pm (1800 GMT), with results to be announced on Tuesday.

 

Syria Foreign Minister in Iran to discuss situation in Middle East

Nusra Front captures more US-trained rebels in northwestern Syria

Yemen retakes biggest airbase from rebels

'New PKK attacks' target security forces in southeastern Turkey

Mediterranean migrant deaths reach tragic milestone in 2015

Violence in Yemen pushes health system to the brink of collapse

Israel court orders extremist Jewish leader to be kept in detention

Suspect in Kuwait mosque attack admits affiliation with ISIS

Head of Taliban's Qatar office quits as leadership rift deepens

Amnesty accuses Sudan of 'war crimes' in South Kordofan

Officials in Damascus play down US warning to Syria regime

Turkish air strikes increase pressure on Iraq Kurdish leadership

British oil company investigated for Somalia corruption

EU to Turkey: Be proportionate in your response to PKK

Two Turkish soldiers killed in new PKK attack

Britain extends air strikes in Iraq by a year

US may take 'additional steps' to defend allied fighters in Syria

Israel ex-security chiefs to Netanyahu: Accept Iran deal as ‘fait accompli’

Turkey will do 'whatever necessary' in fight against militants

US agrees to ‘expedite’ arms sales to Gulf countries

President of Iraq Kurdistan vows to avenge Yazidi minority

PKK claims deadly suicide bombing against troops in eastern Turkey

Sudan rebels offered guarantees to attend talks

Pro-Hadi forces target rebel-held base as coalition forces enter Aden

Israel's president threatened over 'Jewish Terrorism' comments

French beach returns to public after departure of Saudi King

Syria army plane crashes in rebel-held town of Ariha

Iran bans newspaper owned by nuclear deal critic

More Yemen refugees look for shelter in Djibouti

Erdogan: Putin may give up on Assad

Yemen rebel leader says political settlement still possible

Egypt leader amends electoral law

Saudi king cuts short French Riviera holiday

Kerry in Qatar for talks on Iran nuclear deal

UAE prosecutor refers 41 people to trial on terrorism charges

Kerry to Middle East allies: Iran deal will make region safer

Egypt court again postpones verdict in retrial of Jazeera reporters

Al-Nusra Front releases video to show ‘capture’ of US-trained rebels

Israel faces mounting pressure after baby killing in arson attack

'PKK suicide attack' kills two soldiers in eastern Turkey

Egypt court postpones verdict on brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri

Immigration surpasses economy as major concern in Europe

Plane crash kills family members of Bin Laden

Iraq protesters vent anger over poor services

ISIS flexes muscles in eastern Libya