Wed, Jul 11, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Jibril takes early lead in Libyan polls

FREE AT LAST:Most Libyans were overjoyed to finally cast their vote, but easterners were not smiling as, feeling marginalized, they sought to block the electoral process

Reuters, TRIPOLI

“Eleven months after the building of a new nation, there are bound to be spoilers,” said Carter Center vice-president of peace programs John Stremlau. “Libyans determined to continue with the voting process is what gives us hope for the future.”

Reaction to Jibril’s coalition call was cautiously positive.

“The door is open to dialogue now for all Libyans,” said Ali Rhouma El-Sibai, head of the hardline Islamic al-Assala Group. “But no agreement is possible until we know what is on the table. We cannot compromise our principles.”

The storming of four voting centers by protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday underlined that eastern demands ranging from greater political representation for the region to regional autonomy will not go away.

Gunmen, demonstrating their grip on the eastern oil terminals from which the bulk of Libya’s oil exports flow, blocked three main ports a day before the vote.

Many easterners are furious that their region, one of three in Libya, was only allotted 60 seats in the new assembly compared with 102 for the western region that includes Tripoli.

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