Armed protesters storm Libyan electoral commission | News | DW | 01.07.2012
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Armed protesters storm Libyan electoral commission

Armed protesters seeking greater independence for Libya's east have ransacked the offices of the federal electoral commission in Benghazi. Meanwhile, the detained international court staff are expected to be released.

"A group of people entered the commission's office, ransacked the place and destroyed whatever was inside the building," said Jamal Boukrin, the commission's chief for Benghazi.

Witnesses say a group of about 300 men carried computers and ballot boxes from the building, before burning the election materials and breaking the computer equipment outside the electoral office. The attack comes less than a week before the North African country goes to the polls.

"There wasn't enough security at the gates of the commission to stop the protesters, so they had to step back and let them storm the building," said Emad Al-Sayeh, deputy head of the High National Election Commission in the capital Tripoli.

Protesters tore up campaign posters and carried signs saying "Mustafa Abdel Jalil is a traitor of Cyrenaica," referring to the leader of the ruling National Transitional Council. Others said "No Elections without a Constitution."

A leader of the Abdeljawad al-Badin group told news agency AFP the violence was in protest at their demands for eastern and western Libya to be allocated an equal number of seats within parliament, after they felt they were being ignored by authorities.

Pro-autonomy leaders in eastern Libya have called for a boycott of the July 7 vote.

Detained staff to go free

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Sunday that four of its staff members, detained in Libya since early June, are expected to be set free on Monday.

They were detained in the western city of Zintan after Libyan officials accused one of them of spying.

The court's president, Sang-Hyun Song, will go to Libya on Monday, the ICC said.

The ICC is seeking to try Moammar Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, 39, for crimes against humanity during his father's rule, which ended last year. Tripoli would prefer he be tried locally and have filed a motion challenging the ICC's jurisdiction to try him in The Hague.

jlw,tm/ccp (dpa, Reuters)