Libyans elect local councils for Tripoli

AFP , Saturday 17 May 2014

Voters in Libya's capital Tripoli cast their ballots Saturday to elect four new municipal councils, as part of a gradual electoral process that began several months ago.

The city has been divided administratively into four municipalities -- Tripoli Centre, Sug al-Jomaa (east), Abu Slim (south) and Hay al-Andalus (west).

Polling stations opened at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) and are due to close at 20:00 pm. No date has yet been set for the results to be announced.

Turnout was average at two polling stations in the city centre after a lacklustre campaign, an AFP photographer said, with an apparent lack of public interest in the process.

The newly elected councils will replace those formed after the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Libya's interim government has divided the country into 102 municipalities with a view to promoting local governance and decentralisation.

The electoral process began last November in the east of the North African nation.

Saturday's polling in the capital comes a day after clashes in second city Benghazi in the restive east, between forces run by a retired general and Islamists, killed 37 people.

After more than 40 years of Kadhafi rule, Libya organised its first free election in June 2012 for 200 members of the General National Congress or parliament.

But since the fall of the former regime the country has remained plagued by lawlessness and violence, with the interim authorities so far unable to restore stability.

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