Libyans loot election offices in east

July 2, 2012 at 7:06 AM
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BENGHAZI, Liberia, July 2 (UPI) -- Protesters ransacked Libyan election commission offices in Benghazi and Torbuk, angry over the distribution of assembly seats ahead of this week's elections.

Witnesses said the protesters removed computers, ballot boxes and ballots, and then set them on fire in the streets in the incidents Sunday, The New York Times reported.

Some of the protesters held signs calling Libya's interim government a "traitor" to the country's eastern region, which demonstrators said were allocated too few seats in the assembly. Other protesters demanded a constitution be written before elections are conducted.

Libyans were hoping an assembly election Saturday would establish a government with more credibility and better control over local militias than the Transitional National Council, the ruling authority since the overthrow of long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. However, it wasn't certain if the TNC could provide enough security to conduct a credible election or sway rival regions and tribes to respect the results. Whether the attacks Sunday would disrupt the vote was unclear, the Times said.

Libyans in the eastern part of the country have expressed concern a skewed assembly could draft a constitution favoring the more populous west, the Times said. Even though many eastern residents have indicated an election is the only way to move forward, others have called for a more federal form of government or have been urging that the vote be boycotted

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