The main storage centre for election materials in Libya has fallen victim to a suspected arson attack, raising security fears ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary vote.
A security source said the centre in the eastern town of Ajdabiya contained ballots and other election equipment.
This follows the storming of an election commission office in Benghazi at the weekend, by protesters demanding greater powers for Libya’s eastern region.
After almost half a century of dictatorship, democracy is now an alien concept for many in the country.
While clan ties will play a significant role, as they do in business and many aspects of Libyan life, it is expected that in the first post-Gaddafi vote Islamists will take centre stage, as they have in Egypt and Tunisia after their dictators were swept away.
Abdul Hakim Belhadj is the leader of the conservative Islamist Al-Watan Party. He is a former Islamic militant who has now swapped his trademark military fatigues for sharp suits and a slick election campaign.
UN Special Representative Ian Martin spoke of some security concerns, but said he and other observers remain hopeful.
“The remaining concern as far as Saturday is concerned is security in parts of the country where that has been a problem recently, but we hope that everyone is going to respect the overwhelming will of Libyans to have a peaceful election,” Martin said
Libya is starting from scratch with no experience or machinery in place for elections in the country. As a consequence there are bound to be teething problems, but international observers say they are very satisfied with the preparations so far, and have said that what the National Election Commission has achieved is extraordinary.