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Libya: Low turnout at constitution committee vote - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Electoral workers prepare to count ballots after polling stations closed in Benghazi February 20, 2014.  (Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori)

Electoral workers prepare to count ballots after polling stations closed in Benghazi on February 20, 2014. (Reuters/Esam Omran Al-Fetori)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Libya’s election commission confirmed that voter turnout for Thursday’s nationwide vote for a constitution-drafting panel stood at 45 percent, with incidents of violence reported across the country.

Explosions were reported at five polling stations in the eastern city of Derna, a stronghold for Islamic militants, with local media claiming one man had been killed in the attack. There were also reports of intimidation in southern cities, including turning many voters away.

Libya’s election commission said that approximately half a million Libyans voted in the polls to elect the 60-member constitution-drafting committee out of a total of 1.1 million registered voters. A total of 3.4 million Libyans are eligible to vote.

The results of Thursday’s constitution panel elections are expected to be announced in the coming days.

A total of 649 candidates competed for a seat on the panel, which will have 120 days to draft Libya’s first constitution in forty years. The vote was split between Libya’s three main regions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. The constitution committee has also imposed a quota of five female deputies for each region, in addition to a total of six seats for representatives of Libya’s Tebo, Tuareg and Berber ethnic groups.

The Berbers’ decision to boycott the vote means that the constitution-drafting panel will be made up of a total of 58 deputies, with their two seats remaining vacant. The Berbers are protesting against the interim authorities failing to guarantee their minority—which played a major role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising—a stronger role in the decision-making process in the country.

Libya’s election commission chief, Nuri Al-Abbar, confirmed that the five polling stations that had been attacked in Derna remained closed throughout Thursday, adding that the commission had also been unable to open a further 29 polling stations in Murzuq, in the south of the country, due to protests by members of the Tebo minority.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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