Tripoli, Libya: The head of Libya’s election commission and two of its members resigned on Sunday, state media reported, a day after it released initial results of a vote for the country’s constitutional panel amid violence and boycotts.
Nuri Al Abari, the head of the commission, did not say why he resigned, although it appeared to be out of concern over Libya’s volatile political situation and tension over the election.
Later in the day, armed protesters stormed the parliament building while lawmakers were in session, trashing furniture, burning the speaker’s chair and beating at least three lawmakers, deputy speaker Hussain Al Ansari said. The February vote for the 60-member constitutional panel was marred by violence, with several voting stations coming under attack and security forces failing to secure others.
The commission said late on Saturday that only 47 of the seats were filled, with 13 left empty because voting had been disrupted or protesting minority groups boycotted the vote. The commission had earlier said that around half a million of the country’s 1.1 million voters cast their ballots.
Al Abari’s deputy Emad Al Sayeh, who also resigned, said the move would open the road for younger generations.
It is not clear whether the parliament will accept the resignations. The result of the vote is to be finalised after a 12-day period for complaints and review. It is also not clear what the parliament will do to fill the 13 empty seats.
The vote is crucial for Libya’s transition to democracy after a political stalemate and violence since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, powerful militias have controlled the streets and some politicians have used them for support.
The armed protesters who attacked the parliament were calling for the dissolution of the interim body. Since late last month powerful militias have been threatening to detain members of parliament, demanding it be dissolved.
Parliament is split between Islamist and non-Islamist blocs. Its mandate was due to expire in February but the Islamists led a motion to extend it by a year. The parliament was in session on Sunday to discuss the results of the constitutional panel vote and subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections.
Also on Sunday, a French engineer contracted by a medical centre in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi was shot dead by gunmen. Fadia Al Barghathi, the spokeswoman for Al Galaa hospital in Benghazi, said the 49-year-old was shot once in the chest as he drove his car in the city centre on Sunday. She said the man was identified from official papers he was carrying.
Benghazi is a stronghold of militias with roots in the rebel brigades that fought against Gaddafi. Some of the groups are Islamic hard-liners with Al Qaida links who have targeted security officials. Lawlessness is rife in Benghazi and foreigners there have also been abducted in the past.
In a statement, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius identified the Frenchman killed in Benghazi as Patrice Real.
Fabius said “all light must be shed on the circumstances of this odious and cowardly act. Those responsible must be found and convicted as soon as possible.”