Libyans Hold Emotional
Multi-Party Election, First in 60 Years
July 07, 2012
Libyans filled with optimism went to the polls Saturday for their
nation's first multi-party elections in 60 years. It was an emotional
moment for people who have lived through 42 years of dictatorship and a
Many young men were fighting the forces of Moammar Gaddhafi just nine
months ago. Today, some of those same young men are presiding over a
raucous intersection of celebratory horn honking, as Libyans head to and
from the voting stations.
At one school in a working-class neighborhood, women celebrated and
showed off their ink-stained fingers, evidence that they had voted.
Inside what is usually the school's computer room, procedures were
followed with precision and respect.
Recent university graduate Farah Moterdy, 23, was among those waiting
“My heart is beating quickly and I'm very happy and I wish that my vote
makes change," she said.
Islamists are expected to do well in the election but the aspiring
English teacher said she would not be voting for them, fearing they
would try to restrict women's rights.
“Yesterday I was crying when I see the pictures of the people who are in
the election,” Moterdy said. “Who will we choose of them? We want to
make the future for Libya. It depends on us. This is what I know. It
depends on us.”
Libya got an unexpected visitor for the election - U.S. Senator John
McCain, who was an early advocate of the NATO intervention that helped
“Already we started early at the polls and we observed the people who
enthusiastically have exercised the fundamental right of people if
you’re going to have a democracy and that is a fair election," he said.
"There were some problems in the eastern part of the country. I’ve been
informed that most of those problems have been resolved.”
There was some anti-election violence in the eastern city of Benghazi,
where the revolt started a year-and-a-half ago, but the voting
continued. Some militias and tribes want more regional autonomy and more
clout in the central government.
at the school in Tripoli, men waited patiently for their turns. They are
among nearly three million people registered to vote, about 80 percent
of those eligible. The voters are choosing among more than 3,700
candidates for 200 seats in a National Assembly that will form an
interim government and write a new constitution.
“I feel free. I can smell it. I can land at the airport without any
fear,” said businessman Suleiman Giornazi.
Like many voters, Giornazi could hardly speak about the election without
getting emotional. And he said he is not worried about the violence in
the east or continuing unrest in some other parts of the country.
“Nothing bothers me,” he said. “The only thing that bothers me is
Gadhafi, and he's gone. And we will be all right. This is hiccups and
doesn't mean nothing to us. We for sure will get over it.”
His optimism was shared around the capital, as Libyans of all ages put
their country's problems aside and celebrated the simple but hard-fought
triumph of their first post-revolution election day.