Libyans hold historic vote amid tensions
Tripoli, Libya - Polls have closed across much of Libya, where voting in the country’s first free national elections in more than four decades took place amid violence by federalist protesters who disrupted the vote in several districts.
Voting ended officially at 8pm (1800:GMT), but delays in starting has caused the polls to stay open later in some areas of the country.
In Benghazi, Libya's second city, they closed on Saturday night after staying open for an extra hour; in Ajdabiya and other places further from the capital, where voting did not start until the afternoon, voting will continue as late as 7am on Sunday. Voting in Brega has still not yet started.
Turnout was 60 per cent, the electoral commission said, citing preliminary figures. "We are continuing to receive reports, but the number of voters has reached 1.6 million," said Nuri al-Abbar, the head of the commission.
Acts of sabotage, mostly in the east of the country, prevented 101 polling stations from opening on Saturday, the electoral commission said, although 94 per cent of stations managed to open.
On Friday, a helicopter carrying election material from Libya's eastern city of Benghazi was shot at in mid-flight, fatally wounding a member of Libya's High National Election Committee (HNEC) logistics team onboard.
The 2.8 million registered voters are electing a 200-seat General National Conference (GNC) that will replace the unelected interim government that has ruled the country after the revolution against Libya’s ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Al Jazeera's David Poort, reporting from Tripoli, said that Nuri al-Abbar, the head of the electoral commission, brushed off most incidents that took place on Saturday and said that the elections overall have proven to be a success.
"Only seven polling stations could not open this morning because of protests in the east of the country. There were no violations reported in the west," said Abbar, speaking a press conference on Saturday evening.
"Some polling stations had some delay in receiving the voting material, but all these problems were solved in the course of this morning."