Explosions rocked five polling stations in eastern Libya on Thursday as voters began electing a body to draft a new constitution, another step in the OPEC producer’s rocky transition since Muammar Gaddafi fell in 2011. Nobody was wounded in the dawn bomb attacks in the restive town of Derna, residents said, but the incident highlighted the volatile situation in the North African country. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s government is struggling to assert its authority over militias which helped topple Gaddafi but kept their weapons and have become major political players.
A threat by powerful militias to dissolve parliament ramped up pressure on Libya’s weak central government Wednesday on the eve of a vote to elect a constitution-drafting panel. The vote is the latest milestone in the chaotic transition following the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi, but has generated little enthusiasm among Libyans frustrated by the government’s inability to impose order on former rebels. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said late Tuesday a “compromise” had been reached with ex-rebel militias who had given Libya’s interim assembly a deadline to hand over power. Zeidan said the deadline had been extended by 72 hours but did not give further details of the compromise, telling journalists only that “wisdom has prevailed” after discussions with representatives from the militias, the assembly and the United Nations.