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Libya: Liberals Outdo Islamists

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By Essam Mohamed

Preliminary results of Libya’s July 7th elections show that liberal bloc National Forces Alliances (NFA) is holding a confident lead against Islamists.

“These results represent 55%,” said High National Electoral Commission head Nuri al-Abbar at a Tripoli press conference on Tuesday (July 10th).

The most prominent result was recorded in the eastern region (Tobruk, al-Kouba and Derna), where Mahmoud Jibril’s party gained 57,234 votes, as opposed to 8,333 by the Justice and Construction party, one of Libya’s main Islamist parties.

In the southern capital of Sebha, where five seats were up for grabs, the alliance of liberal forces won 7,576 votes, followed by Labayk Watani (3,026), from the same town. The Islamists came in third with 2,241 votes.

The party secured 2,070 votes in the central town of Shati. Jibril’s bloc did not stand in the area. In the areas west of Tripoli (al-Maya, al-Nasseriya and al-Aziziya), the NFA won by landslide (47,395 votes), followed by the al-Watan Party (3,755). The Islamist party did not vie for seats in the constituency.

The Justice and Construction party, however, refused to concede defeat.

“Preliminary results (which appear to give the liberal coalition a net advantage) reflect only 40% of seats. But early figures show that the coalition has no presence in the remaining 120 seats,” AFP quoted party chief Mohammed Sawan as saying on Tuesday.

Only 80 out of 200 seats in the General National Congress are elected on party lists, while the remaining seats are open to independent candidates.

“We expect to have a very large presence in the congress,” Sawan added.

Activist Saleh Bin Saad commented that the vote symbolised that Libyans “opted for moderation”.

“The National Forces Alliance is lucky to be headed by someone who is specialised in crisis management,” he told Magharebia.

“The card of Islam is not played in Libya,” commented journalist Muftah Belaid. “The entire population is Muslim following the Maliki sect of Islam. If there is an extremist group, we pray that God will guide them. I think that people have made the right choice and the alliance will be the champion of this round because people love them and back their programme which seeks to present Libya in a new light.”

Meanwhile, voter Sheikh Youssef suggested that Islamist parties can “lead the country to justice following an unjust rule”.

“Everyone should make good choices and don’t allow the media to influence their choices,” he said.

Islamists had a strong presence in the interim government and influenced the decisions of the National Transitional Council (NTC), alleged Ibrahim Bin Amer, an oil sector engineer.

“Some of NTC’s decisions were compatible with the opinions of Muslim Brotherhood and contrary to the Libyan people, which affected their results,” he said.

Islamists tried to bill liberals as “secularists”, according to activist Khalifa al-Misrati. “Some of them even said that elections were haram,” he said.

“Libya will break the Muslim Brotherhood base in the Arab Maghreb and will put an end to this pattern,” said Ali al-Jabli, a rights activist from the Nafusa Mountains.

For his part, activist Youssef Ali commented that Libyan people “now understand the reality of things and can no longer be fooled”. The early results of the alliance’s victory may show to the world that Libyans oppose extremism and embrace diversity, he added.

“Libyans want to set the wheel of development in motion and aspire to progress, development and life in an atmosphere of freedom, prosperity and innovation, away from extremism, radicalism and obscurantism,” educational inspector Ali al-Mahrush said.

Magharebia

Magharebia

The Magharebia web site is sponsored by the United States Africa Command, the military command responsible for supporting and enhancing US efforts to promote stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

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