Libya holds elections to end post-Gaddafi instability

Photo: Libya holds elections to end post-Gaddafi instability / Arab World

Libyans go to the polls on Wednesday in the hope of ending the anarchy that has gripped the country since the 2011 overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, BBC reported.

A new 200-seat parliament will be elected in the second poll since the former regime's overthrow.

The UN has described the poll as "an important step in Libya's transition towards stable democratic governance".

The election was called a month ago amid government claims that a renegade general was plotting a coup.

General Khalifa Haftar denied the allegation, but launched a military offensive against Islamist militias whom he accused of holding Libya to ransom.

At least 70 people were killed in the ensuing battles. Gunmen also stormed the parliamentary building in the capital, Tripoli.

More than 1.5 million voters have registered for the election, compared with 2.8 million who registered for Libya's first election in 2012, Reuters news agency reports.

Nearly 2,000 candidates are vying for seats in the new parliament, which will be called the House of Representatives.

Secular parties won elections in 2012, but there are no party lists in this election, BBC correspondent says.

Instead, candidates are contesting parliamentary seats as individuals - a decision taken to reduce tensions, correspondent adds.

The new parliament will replace the General National Congress, a body that became riddled with controversy, political deadlock and the ideological battles that have raged since the historic election nearly two years ago.

Though many Libyans have grown wary of the politics since then, they have not quite given up on democracy yet. As one prospective voter put it, "We will keep voting until we get the right people in."

It comes at a critical time for Libya, with growing pockets of instability and a prevailing sense of chaotic politics that is crippling the country.

This election is seen as a fresh start, but the underlying divisions, involving political and armed groups, remain. They are all seeking to either overrule or outgun each other. Until these differences are set aside and a compromise reached, the tangible progress many hope for will stay out of reach.

The assembly has been widely blamed for the crisis in Libya, BBC reporter says.

The new parliament will be called the House of Representatives, reporter adds.

The cabinet issued a decree earlier this month that it would be based in the second city, Benghazi.

The move appears to be an attempt to placate residents of Benghazi who feel neglected, despite triggering the revolution that led to Col Gaddafi being toppled, BBC correspondent says.

However, it is unclear whether new MPs would feel safe in Benghazi, which has been badly affected by instability, reporter adds.

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