Unrest foils Libya poll re-run in Tuareg south
27 February 2014, 16:51
Tripoli - A second attempt to organise voting for a constituent assembly in a mainly Tuareg region of south-western Libya and a jihadist bastion in the east failed on Wednesday in the face of persistent insecurity.
The electoral commission said it would not make a third attempt to organise polling in the two areas and parliament would have to decide what to do about the resulting 11 vacant seats in the 60-seat assembly.
In the vast Ubari region, deep in the Sahara south of the capital, gunmen attacked polling stations and forced their closure, the commission said.
In the eastern city of Derna, a stronghold of jihadist groups opposed to the electoral process, security forces failed to deploy, forcing abandonment of the election rerun.
"Voting did not take place in 59 polling stations, including 13 in Derna and 39 in Ubari," commission member Khaled al-Saheli told a news conference.
Commission president Nuri al-Abbar said: "We sounded the alarm and warned the government and the General National Congress, but in vain."
Lawlessness of former rebels
Billed as a new milestone in the troubled transition from the 42-year dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi, the election failed to generate much enthusiasm among voters.
Turnout in last Thursday's voting reached just 45% of the less than one-third of eligible voters who even bothered to register.
The figure was sharply down on the 2012 vote to the GNC, Libya's first freely contested election held amid the euphoria that followed Gaddafi’s overthrow and killing the previous year.
Much of that excitement has dissipated amid frustration at the lawlessness of former rebel militia that have carved up a patchwork of fiefdoms around the country.
Another two seats in the assembly charged with drawing up a post-Gaddafi constitution, which had been reserved for the Berber minority, will also remain vacant after Berber groups called a boycott.
As a result, it will have just 47 of the 60 members it had been intended to.