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Libyans vote for constitution body in move towards democracy

Libyans vote for constitution body in move towards democracy
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Libyans have been voting to elect an assembly, who will then draft a constitution for the country, which will be put to a referendum.

They cast their ballots amid rising political tensions.

This is a vital step in the transition towards democracy after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In Beghazi, voter Hatem al-Majri said he has high hopes: “We’re here today as an act of loyalty to the blood shed by the revolutionary martyrs and for the principles of the 17th of February revolution and a lawful state. God willing, today is the starting point for democracy and freedom, which is why we came.”

Highlighting the volatile situation in Libya, explosions rocked five polling stations in the eastern town of Derna.

The government is struggling to assert its authority over militias which helped topple Gaddafi, and which are fed up with infighting in the General National Congress which has delayed attempts to write a constitution.

Voter registration was low, as was the turn-out, demonstrating a lack of trust in political institutions.

The 60 members of the constitutional committee will have 120 days to draft the charter.

They will be divided equally between Libya’s three regions: Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east, and Fezzan in the south.

The model resembles the committee that drafted Libya’s pre-Gaddafi constitution, implemented when it became an independent state in 1951.

Those who will draft the constitution will need to take into account political and tribal rivalries and calls for more autonomy in the east when deciding what political system Libya will adopt.