x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Last chance for Libyans in the Gulf to vote

Expat Libyans from all over the Gulf travelled to Dubai to vote in first elections since the end of Moammar Gadhafi's rule.

DUBAI // Today is the last chance for Libyan expatriates to vote for the country's congress.

The polling station at the Libyan consulate, which has been open since Tuesday, will close at 6pm today, after which the vote counting will begin.

Staff at the consulate said expatriate Libyans had travelled to Dubai from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain to vote.

"They were so happy, they were crying," said Majda Annaihum, the national adviser for organising the voting in Dubai. "They were bringing in families, all coming to celebrate."

The election is the first after the 42 years of autocratic rule under Muammar Qaddafi.

A total of 2,501 candidates and 142 political parties are vying to form the new General National Congress to draft the country's constitution.

Ms Annaihum said the outpouring of emotion was expected.

"We weren't surprised because that's how we felt, too," she said. "It was a very special moment. All of us wanted to cheer after we voted."

Ms Annaihum declined to give a figure for the turnout so far.

The figures, she said, would be announced through Tripoli rather than through the Dubai consulate.

There are also overseas polling stations in Jordan, Germany, the UK, the US and Canada. The station in Dubai is the only one in the Arabian Gulf region.

About 2,000 expatriate Libyans reside in Dubai, but Ms Annaihum said she did not expect all of them to vote in Dubai.

"Many of them have travelled to Libya for their holidays and to vote in person," she noted.