Libya’s wartime prime minister Mahmoud Jibril extended his lead in landmark elections, vote tallies showed on Wednesday, but Islamist rivals predicted their score would be boosted by allied independent candidates. Jibril’s National Forces Alliance headed for a landslide win in the eastern district covering the towns of Tobruk and Derna, seen as a hardline Islamist stronghold, suggesting his support was broader than urban areas such as the capital Tripoli. However Western-educated Jibril’s gains do not automatically translate into dominance of the 200-seat national assembly which is set to choose a prime minister and cabinet before setting the stage for full parliamentary elections in 2013.
Candidates on party lists have only been allotted 80 seats, meaning they will be outnumbered by independent candidates whose allegiances are hard to pin down. “With our own numbers we are almost certain that we have the majority in the independent seats,” said Mohammed Sawan, the head of the Justice and Construction Party, the political wing of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood. “Maybe the final result will show that Justice and Construction is the leading party,” he told Reuters. Libya’s first free national vote in six decades has been hailed as a success by observers despite election-day violence that claimed at least two lives.