Last Updated: Mon Jul 09, 2012 09:34 am (KSA) 06:34 am (GMT)

U.N. leader praises Libya ‘transparent’ vote amid calls for grand coalition

Crowds of joyful Libyans, some with tears in their eyes, parted with the legacy of Muammar Qaddafi as they voted in the first free national election in 60 years. (Reuters)
Crowds of joyful Libyans, some with tears in their eyes, parted with the legacy of Muammar Qaddafi as they voted in the first free national election in 60 years. (Reuters)

Libyans expect the election results on Monday as U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon called for Libya’s new leaders to govern in a spirit of “justice and reconciliation” as he hailed the country’s first polls since the downfall of Muammar Qaddafi, amid calls for coalition government.

Ban said in a statement released by his spokesman’s office early Monday that Saturday’s voting had been “well-conducted and transparent” even though some Libyans had “faced threats to their security.”

Libyans voted for a General National Congress, a 200-member legislative assembly which will steer the country through a transition period. Turnout was above 60 percent, the electoral commission said.

No official results have been announced but Ban said he hoped whoever wins and takes on the task of writing a new constitution “will do so in a spirit of inclusion, justice and reconciliation among all Libyans.”

“Last year, thousands of Libyans sacrificed their lives or suffered lasting injury in order to win the right of the Libyan people to build a new state founded on human dignity and the rule of law,” Ban said, according to AFP.

Early polling by political parties put a coalition led by Mahmoud Jibril, the head of a rebel government that played a key role in the fight against Qaddafi last year, in the lead.

The U.N. has a political mission in Libya helping the government and Ban said the mission was ready to work with the new leaders.

Meanwhile, Libya’s wartime rebel prime minister Mahmoud Jibril called for the some 150 political parties in the North African nation to back the creation of a grand coalition government.

The call came as Libyans celebrated Saturday’s largely peaceful national assembly election, which went ahead despite widespread fears of violence.

Jibril declined comment on speculation his own National Forces Alliance (NFA) of around 60 parties was leading Islamic groups including the political wing of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood.

“We extend an honest call for a national dialogue to come altogether in one coalition, under one banner ... This is an honest and sincere call for all political parties operating today in Libya,” Jibril said.

“In yesterday’s election there was no loser or winner ... Whoever wins, Libya is the real winner,” he told a late-night news conference on Sunday, Reuters reported.

Jibril is a fluent English-speaker who was the main point man of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) with Western backers including France, Britain and the United States.

He rejected descriptions of the NFA as secular and liberal, saying a commitment to tenets of Islamic law was among its core principles -- a comment which could facilitate efforts to form ties with more overtly Islamist parties.

No comment was immediately available from leading groups such as the Justice and Construction Party, the political branch of the Libyan counterpart of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Watan, an Islamist group led by former rebel militia leader Abdul Hakim Belhadj, said it would study the call on Monday.

If such a grand coalition were formed it would inevitably dominate the new 200-head assembly for which Libyans voted on Saturday and whose tasks include naming a prime minister and cabinet to serve before full parliamentary polls due in 2013.

Nearly 1.8 million of 2.8 million registered voters cast their ballots, a turnout of around 65 percent. Two deaths were reported as protesters in eastern Libya sought to disrupt the vote they see as a power grab by Tripoli and the west region.

Local gunmen demonstrated their grip on the eastern oil terminals from which the bulk of Libya’s oil exports flow by blocking three main ports a day before the vote. The National Oil Corporation confirmed on Sunday that activities were back to normal after a 48-hour stoppage.

Many easterners are furious that their region, one of three in Libya, was only allotted 60 seats in the new assembly compared to 102 for the western region.

“There should be a serious dialogue (with the east). As there is a sincere wish on their part and on our part I think we can reach a compromise,” said Jibril, who declined to specify what role he saw for himself in Libyan politics.

Analysts say one of Libya’s priorities is to address the eastern grievances in the drafting of a new constitution, even if a move to all-out federalism is unlikely.

“The government recognizes there is an overall unhappiness in the east and they are willing to address that issue. It will probably be termed more as decentralization,” said Claudia Gazzini of the International Crisis Group.

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