Libyans Vote for First Time in 40 Years

Historic election comes amid violence
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2012 12:38 PM CDT
Libyans Vote for First Time in 40 Years
A Libyan man kisses his ink-marked finger that shows he has voted as he drives in Tripoli.   (AP Photo/Abdel Magid Al Fergany)

(Newser) – Many Libyans got to do something today for the first time in their lives: vote. The nation went to the polls to elect a parliament after last year's overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi—the first election in more than 40 years, reports al-Jazeera. It hasn't been smooth, however. Protesters trying to stop the vote have attacked polling centers and burned ballots, reports AP. Most of the unrest took place in the eastern half of the country, where residents fear the election will give too much power to the more populous west, explains the New York Times.

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“We will vote for the fatherland whether there is shooting or not,” one Libyan told the Times. "Whoever dies for their country is a martyr, and even if there are explosions, we are going to vote.” The 200-member parliament will appoint a prime minister and a Cabinet but will not choose a panel to write a new constitution as originally planned. The interim government took away the latter power at the last minute to try to ease fears in the east. (Read more Libya stories.)

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