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  • A man casts his vote during the municipal election at a polling station in Zwara, Libya March 30, 2019.

    A man casts his vote during the municipal election at a polling station in Zwara, Libya March 30, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 March 2019

Although turnout in the country’s first voting in five years reached only about 38 percent, it marks a new chapter for the nation, recovering from a NATO-led intervention.

Libya held municipal elections in nine communities on Saturday, the first since 2014, when a heavily contested national vote ended up splitting the country into rival administrations and parliaments.

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“We wish every success to this board and for it to achieve all the aspirations of this city’s residents in all areas,” a Libyan man said as he cast his vote.

Although turnout in the country’s first voting in five years reached only about 38 percent, it marks a new chapter for the nation, recovering from a NATO-led intervention which resulted in the toppling of long-time leader Muammar  Gaddafi in 2011. No violence or sabotage was reported during these elections. 

In 2013, 120 municipal councils were created, some councils held elections in 2014. During the electoral process on Saturday, nine out of 69 municipal councils in southern and western Libya voted, officials said.

The municipal board of each council includes seven members, which then elect a mayor.

“We’ll go on each Saturday until 33 councils hold their elections then we resume after the holy month of Ramadan so all councils are elected,” the head of the elections commission, Salem Bentahia,  told Reuters. The Muslim month of Ramadan will approximately start on May 5 and end on June 4. 

However, national elections are still on debate. In February Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and Khalifa Haftar, the military commander of its breakaway eastern half, met and agreed that national elections are necessary, the United Nations said. 

For almost two years, the international body has sought to organize elections as a way of ending eight years of conflict. On April 2019, they will hold a national conference in a bid to end the political conflict, once again. 

"We see signs that the contradictions that you have noted could possibly be overcome for the first time,"  U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday, when asked whether the two leaders could reach an agreement on the question of civilian army command.

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