By Anastasiya Pershkina and Anastasiya Petrova
Libya has pulled off its first general elections in almost half a century. A 200-member National Assembly is to emerge next week, tasked with forming a government which should replace the provisional administration that has been governing the country since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.
The turnout amounted to 2.7 million, or 60% of the eligible voters. The choice was between the largely pro-Western National Forces Alliance and the Justice and Construction Party, which is in fact the Libya branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Importantly, Saturday’s poll cannot be described as smooth and peaceful.
According to Libyan electoral official Khalidu Zayo, “Some radically-minded people in Cyrenaica were resentful over the government’s allocation of just 60 Assembly seats to their region. This resulted in widespread boycotts and occasional scuffles and also prompted the authorities in Ajdabiya and Brega to keep the polling stations shut for several hours.”
Professor Oleg Peresypkin of the Russian Diplomatic Academy describes the current political landscape of Libya:
“The forces that acted as one when they battled Gaddafi are now settling their tribal and regional scores. This has already led to rival demonstrations and may also lead to fighting. Libya is awash with arms, and each of its factions is prepared to use it. Only wisdom can save the Libyans from further trouble. Wisdom and time.”
Initial ballot counts suggest a narrow victory by the National Forces Alliance.
Professor Peresypkin, however, stays skeptical:
“These people, the liberals, owe their more or less dominant position in Libya to Western military support. Accordingly, their domestic and foreign policy is likely to be more or less pro-Western. And in this, they are bound to encounter strong opposition from the conservative Islamist faction. Islamism is a prevailing political undercurrent in modern Libya.”