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Armed protesters storm election commission in Benghazi

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-02

A Reuters witness said Sunday that some 300 armed men ransacked the election commission in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and burned voting material. Local leaders have called for a boycott of the upcoming July 7 election.

REUTERS - Armed protesters calling for greater autonomy for Libya's east stormed the national election commission in Benghazi on Sunday, burning materials and breaking computer equipment outside, less than a week before the North African country holds an election.

About 300 men carried computers and ballot boxes from the building in Libya's second city and began crushing them while chanting pro-federalism slogans, a Reuters correspondent at the scene said.

Piles of voting lists, ballot papers and other documents were set ablaze at the gates to the election commission.

"There wasn't enough security at the gates of the commission to stop the protesters, so they had to step back and let them storm the building," said Emad Al-Sayeh, deputy head of the High National Election Commission in the capital Tripoli.

The protesters began tearing up campaign posters and carried signs that read "Mustafa Abdel Jalil is a traitor of Cyrenaica", referring to the head of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council. Others said: "No Elections without a Constitution."

In May, a self-proclaimed autonomous council for Libya's oil-producing eastern province called on people in the region to boycott the July 7 election, saying it would not give adequate representation to the east.

The election, for a national assembly that will draw up a new constitution, is a crucial milestone in shaping Libya's new institutions after a revolt last year toppled Muammar Gaddafi from power.

The Council of Cyrenaica, which wants autonomy for the eastern region around the city of Benghazi, said it wanted guarantees of fair representation for Libya's provinces before the election took place.

Date created : 2012-07-01

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