First Libyan municipal elections in five years

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Libya held rare municipal elections in nine communities with turnout in the country’s first polls for five years reached about 38%.

The North African state, mired in conflict and chaos since the 2011 toppling of Muammar Gaddafi, has not held any elections since 2014, when a heavily contested national vote split the country into rival administrations and parliaments.

Only nine out of 69 municipal councils in southern and western Libya voted on Saturday, officials said. No violence or sabotage was reported.

Libya created 120 municipal councils in 2013 in a bid to end 42 years of centralisation and one man rule under Gaddafi. Some councils held elections in 2014.

The municipal board of each council includes seven members, which then elects a mayor.

“We’ll go on each Saturday until 33 councils hold their elections then we resume after the holy month of Ramadan so all councils are elected,” Salem Bentahia, head of the elections commission, told Reuters.

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends in early June.

In Zuwara, west of Tripoli, there was a modest turnout in the morning.

“We wish every success to this board and for it to achieve all the aspirations of this city’s residents in all areas,” Abdulsalam Ramdan Abdulsalam said as he cast his vote.

The United Nations is holding a national conference in April in a bid to end political conflict between the internationally recognised government in Tripoli in the west and a parallel administration version in the east.

The UN effort hopes to prepare the country for long-delayed national elections.