Protests cloud Libyan elections

July 3, 2012 at 10:04 AM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, July 3 (UPI) -- Unrest in the eastern city of Benghazi ahead of Libya's weekend elections is undermining the will of the people, an election official said.

Opposition forces ransacked the election headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi during the weekend. Eastern rebels since the end of the country's civil war last year have called for more autonomy for their region, once part of a semiautonomous state called Cyrenaica.

Salih Darhub, a spokesman for the interim Transitional National Council, said the eastern movement ran counter to the political ambitions of the rest of the country.

"All those who contribute to derailing the electoral process are standing against the wish of 80 percent of Libyan voters," he was quoted by The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London as saying. "Such acts work against the wishes of those people who languished for years under a dictatorship."

More than 60 percent of the population lives in the west of the country.

Libyans head to polling stations Saturday to choose their new parliamentary leaders in the first democratic vote in a generation. Opposition groups in the east of the country have threatened to boycott the election.

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