Libyan election: Liberal alliance claims lead in first vote since fall of Gadhafi

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

Click image to view more photos.

In a historic election hailed as mostly peaceful, a liberal alliance claimed to be in the lead in Libya's parliamentary elections--the first since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi.

Faisal Krekshi, secretary general of the Alliance of National Forces led by Mahmoud Jibril, said preliminary results put the group in the lead with 63 percent of the vote. But Nouri al-Abar, head of Libya's election commission, would not confirm Krekshi's claims. "We are all waiting and we have nothing to suggest that one party is ahead of others," al-Abar said. "When they talk about winners, advancing parties, all this is speculation." All 200 seats of the transition parliament are up for grabs, including 120 for individual candidates.

Jibril, a senior Gadhafi official-turned-rebel prime minister, serves as the leader of the coalition of more than 40 liberal parties. Approximately 1.7 million of some 2.8 million registered voters turned out to vote, officials said. Results are not expected until late Monday.

[Slideshow: Libyans cast emotional vote]

According to the Associated Press, it was the first time Libyans have voted for a parliament since 1964--"five years before Gadhafi's military coup that toppled the monarchy."

Many Libyans cast their ballots "with tears in their eyes," Reuters said. While two deaths were reported, Saturday's vote was mostly peaceful, "with revelers in Tripoli letting off firecrackers and locals in the eastern city of Benghazi sending up rocket-propelled grenades."

Shouts of "Libya is free" rang out throughout the capital, the AP said.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, head of an official European Union observer group, told Agence France-Presse that most Libyans had voted "peacefully and free of fear and intimidation." According to AFP, six polling stations in Benghazi were affected by ballot burning but were later reopened.

President Barack Obama praised Libya on its landmark election. "The United States is proud of the role that we played in supporting the Libyan revolution and protecting the Libyan people, and we look forward to working closely with the new Libya," the president said in a statement. "On behalf of the American people, I extend my congratulations to the people of Libya for another milestone on their extraordinary transition to democracy."