Thirty-three women have been elected to serve in Libya’s General National Congress in the first free elections since a NATO-backed revolt last year toppled the regime and the death of Moammar Gadhafi. Libya’s electoral commission unveiled results on Tuesday, ten days after the vote. The last time Libyans went to the polls was almost half a century ago under the late-monarch King Idriss, who Gadhafi toppled in a bloodless coup in 1969. The North African nation held parliamentary elections in 1964 and then again in 1965 but parties were banned. “This is a very good starting point: 32 women elected with the parties and one independent,” said Samira Massoud, acting president of the Libyan Women’s Union, a growing national organization with membership in the thousands. The tally gives women 16.5 percent representation in the 200-member transitional authority.
Massoud said that unlike sisters in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, women in Libya — an oil-rich and sparsely populated desert country where tribal traditions remain strong — had almost no political history under Gadhafi or much experience in civil society activism. In a surprise, Libya’s landmark vote gave an edge to a liberal coalition over Islamist parties. The coalition is led by Mahmud Jibril, a former regime official who defected and became the international face of the 2011 revolution. “Libyan society is afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, this why they all gravitated to Jibril,” said Massoud, adding that Libyan women fear being forced to wear the niqab, which covers the face, as is required of women in Saudi Arabia. Those elected in the July 7 polling will appoint a new government and deliver a new constitution on the basis of a process still under debate.
Full Article: Libyan Elections Give Women a 17% Starting Point – Forbes.