Hundreds of armed protesters on Sunday attacked the offices of Libya’s election commission in two cities, Benghazi and Tobruk, in anger over the way seats in next week’s planned election for a constituent assembly were distributed among the country’s regions. The protesters carried computers, ballot boxes and ballots out of the offices, and shattered and burned them in the streets outside, according to witnesses, news agencies and photographs that circulated on the Internet. Some of the attackers carried signs calling the leader of Libya’s interim government a “traitor” to the eastern region of the country, known as Cyrenaica, which the protesters said got too few seats in the assembly. Others demanded the writing of a constitution before elections.
Residents in Benghazi, the city where the Libyan uprising began, have voted in historic local elections. More than 400 people contested seats on the 44-member local council, even though the remit of local authorities has yet to be set. This was the first time such elections have been held in the city since the 1960s and turnout was high. National elections are expected to be held in June. Until then, the mandate of local councils will remain unclear.