Reuters – Explosions rocked five polling stations in eastern Libya on Thursday as voters began electing a body to draft a new constitution, another step in the OPEC producer’s rocky transition since Muammar Gaddafi fell in 2011.
Polling stations opened across most of Libya, although they stayed closed in Derna after gunmen forced one voting centre to shut, an election official said. Security conditions meant some polling stations in two other towns also failed to open.
Nobody claimed responsibility for the Derna attacks but residents said the bombers had scrawled “There is no constitution but Islamic law” on a wall near the scene of one blast, suggesting radical Islamists were responsible.
More than a million people had registered to vote, well below the almost three million who did so for the parliamentary election in 2012 – a sign of low trust in political institutions among Libyans emerging from four decades of quirky one-man rule.
The 60-strong constitutional committee, drawn equally from
The new constitution’s authors will need to take into account political and tribal rivalries, as well as demands for more autonomy for the east, when deciding what political system Libya will adopt. Their draft will be put to a referendum.
In the east, armed protesters have occupied major oil ports since the summer to demand a greater share of energy wealth and political autonomy, crippling vital oil exports. The protest group has dismissed Thursday’s vote as fake.
The election is also boycotted by the Amazigh, or Berber, minority which lives in the west near oil installations.
The GNC agreed this week to hold elections this year after an outcry over its plan to extend its mandate beyond Feb. 7.
Gaddafi ostensibly ruled Libya under a bizarre set of laws prescribed in his Green Book. In practice he and his family ran a totalitarian state where no political opposition was tolerated and rival tribes were paid off or played off against each other.