- Title: LIBYA: Campaigning ends ahead of historic poll
- Date: 5th July 2012
- Summary: LIBYAN FOLKLORIC BAND PLAY TRADITIONAL MUSIC VARIOUS OF SECURITY CELEBRATING END OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN
- Embargoed: 20th July 2012 13:00
- Location: Libya
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAEQEA58N0W52EVN5BD6VS7XNRJ
- Story Text: Libyans will vote in their first free national poll in more than half a century on Saturday amid fears that violence could taint an election meant to usher in a temporary national assembly and draw a line under Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year autocratic reign.
International observers arrived on Thursday (July 5) to check how the National Election Commission work during the voting.
"It is (National Election Commission) well organized and accurate according to all of the international standards and we are reassured that all will be fine in the national election commission," said Mohammed Al Khameshi, an Arab League representative among the election observers.
Voters will select a 200-member assembly that will choose a cabinet to replace the self-appointed interim government and also pick a new prime minister. Many of the 3,700 candidates have strong Islamic agendas.
The chamber was also due to appoint a committee charged with drafting a new constitution. But Libya's transitional rulers announced on Thursday this body would also be elected directly by Libyans - a move one analyst said was a bid to appease federalists that have urged a boycott of Saturday's vote.
The election will be closely watched around the world by both supporters and critics of NATO's bombing campaign that helped underpin an "Arab Spring" uprising which ended Gaddafi's dictatorship and finally claimed his life.
Yet for many of the 2.7 million registered voters, excitement about a first taste of democracy is mingled with fear that it will be hijacked by the militias, often with regional loyalties, who have flourished amid prevailing lawlessness.
"We are, in the national election commission, happy to announce that today the fifth of July 5, 2012 is the end of the election campaign for the national assembly 2012," said Nouri Al Abari, head of the National Election Commission.
Once the new constitution is drafted, a referendum will be held and, if it establishes a parliamentary system, a full legislative poll will be held within six months.
People in Tripoli celebrated in the streets announcing the end of the election campaign looking for the voting day.
"Really, Saturday will be a special day in the history of Libya and it is the conclusion of dozens of years of sacrifices hope that the all Libyan go to polling stations,' said Sadat Al Badri from Tripoli.
While the election is designed to produce a government with a stronger mandate to rule than the current ex-rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), the credibility of the result will be questionable if voters are too scared to turn out or if post-vote disputes degenerate into gun battles among rival factions.
In some areas, such as the isolated southern district of Kufra in the Saharan desert, tribal clashes are so fierce that election observers will be unable to visit, and some question whether the vote can proceed in certain areas there.
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