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Libya's slow transition

July 14, 2012

Officials have begun recounting votes and tallying absentee ballots in elections in Libya. Meanwhile, a rights group says militias still hold 5,000 detainees, despite a deadline to transfer prisoners for trial.

High National Election Commission workers check ballot boxes after collecting them from different polling stations as they prepare for the final count, in Benghazi July 8, 2012. Nine months after Muammar Gaddafi's death at the hands of rebels, Libya has defied fears it would descend into violence by pulling off a largely peaceful election, its first national and free vote in 60 years. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Image: Reuters

Libya's election commission has announced that it is also reviewing appeals lodged by candidates after the release of partial results over the past week. The full results of Libya's first free nationwide vote, on July 7, had been expected as early as Saturday. Now, the election commission chief says the full official results may finally be announced on Monday.

The moderate National Forces Alliance of former interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril had scored a landslide victory over rival Islamist parties, partial tallies showed on Thursday. The defeat for the political wing of Libya's Muslim Brotherhood bucked a winning streak for Islamist groups in other Arab countries transitioning to democracy, such as Egypt and Tunisia.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, in Tripoli for talks, called the elections a milestone on the path to democratic institutions. Talks between Burns and Libyan officials also touched on security, health and education as areas for cooperation. Though no contracts were signed during the visit, Burns said the United States looked forward to forming relationships across the board, including between the countries' two armies, once a new government is formed in Libya.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch charged that Libya has done little to ensure prisoners' due process rights. "Across Libya, thousands of detainees still languish in prisons run by militias, without a formal charge and without any prospect for legal review," the organization's Middle East and North Africa director said. "Despite months of cajoling the militias, the transitional authorities missed the deadline and failed to gain control over approximately 5,000 people still held arbitrarily by armed groups, some subjected to severe torture."

mkg/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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