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Libya

Libya goes to polls to elect assembly to draft constitution

A ballot to elect an assembly to draft a new constitution is under way in Libya. The poll has been billed as a milestone amid public frustration over a central government that has little control over regional militias.

Libyans were electing an assembly on Thursday to draft a new constitution in the wake of the 2011 overthrow of the late dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Only a third of 3.4 million eligible voters had registered to vote.

Running for the intended 60-member assembly are 649 contenders, including 73 women.

Each of Libya's three historic regions have been allocated 20 seats. Six further seats will go to female candidates - two from each province. A further six have been reserved for Libya's ethnic minorities: the Amazigh (Berber), Tebu and Tuareg communities.

Prominent Berber organizations have called for a boycott of the poll to protest that failure of interim authorities to grant their minority a greater role. The Berbers played a major role in the 2011 uprising.

The new charter is to cover issues such as Libya's system of government, the status of minorities and the role of Islamic sharia law.

UN calls for calm

On Tuesday, two powerful militias based in western Libya had demanded the Islamist-dominated interim government resign by Friday or face detention.

The United Nations mission to Libya later subsequently denied that any such deadline had been agreed at recent talks with UN special representative Tarek Mitri.

Mitri had warned that the threat of force endangered "the stability of Libya and the political process."

Last Sunday, the GNC agreed to organize early elections for a replacement body.

Since the interim General National Congress was elected in 2012, former rebel brigades have established regional strongholds across Libya, armed with weapons from former arsenals kept by Gadhafi.

ipj/ph (dpa, AP, AFP)

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