The country will hold elections for the first time since 1969 on Saturday to form a new government and draft the country's constitution.

Libya’s interim government vowed that Saturday’s elections will continue as planned despite attacks on election commission offices in eastern cities.

Some 2,500 candidates are campaigning for the directly elected seats, while there are 1,202 names on the party lists. Campaign posters have been on the streets of Tripoli for almost two weeks.

On Thursday, a member of the National Transitional Council (NTC), which has been ruling Libya for more than a year, said elections would go ahead despite a fire in the city of Ajdabiya that destroyed equipment and supplies needed for the election, including ballot papers. The fire raised fears that the election could be marred by violence. The incident came after hundreds of protesters stormed an election commission office in the eastern city of Benghazi, rallying against what they said was unfair distribution of seats in the National Congress.

The western region, including Tripoli, has been allocated a total of 106 seats. The eastern region, including the second city Benghazi, has 60 seats. The remaining 34 seats will go to thinly populated southern Libya. Seats in the National Congress are divided between 120 directly elected members and 80 for candidates from party lists.

Federalists in eastern Libya have been calling for a self-autonomous region, which is rejected by the NTC and most political parties.

“We have never imagined that anyone would dare to storm the Libyans’ dream and burnt it with such irresponsibility,” said Nuri al-Abbar, head of the Libyan electoral commission. He said there was lack of security, but ballot papers were being shipped to the city to replace what was lost in the fire.

Candidates wrapped up campaigns on Thursday. Electoral law forbids campaigning on the day before the election. Major parties held rallies in Tripoli and other cities in a last bid to attract voters.

Dozens of supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party held a march in Martyr’s Square, which was called Green Square during Gaddafi’s reign. They waved banners reading: “It’s a different Libya, bringing a good omen.” In nearby Algeria Square, supporters of the National Front Party gathered for their last rally before the electoral silence starts at midnight.

The electoral commission put up several billboards to encourage people to vote. One features a woman carrying a picture of a man slain in last year’s conflict against leader Gaddafi, with the words “vote for their sake.”

Keywords: Libyaelections

More In: International | News