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Liberal coalition makes strides in historic Libyan election

From Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
July 18, 2012 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
The National Forces Alliance won the most seats in Libya's historic parliamentary elections, headed by Mahmoud Jibril.
The National Forces Alliance won the most seats in Libya's historic parliamentary elections, headed by Mahmoud Jibril.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Libyans voted July 7 for a General National Congress, a 200-seat assembly
  • The National Forces Alliance (NFA) wins 39 seats, the most of any group
  • Results are not final until after a 14-day appeals period
  • Libya is unique among nations that have held elections after Arab Spring uprisings

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- A political coalition widely regarded as the liberal option dominated Libya's historic parliamentary elections, results showed Tuesday.

The National Forces Alliance (NFA) won 39 seats, the most of any group. The coalition was trailed by the Justice and Construction party, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, which won 17 seats nationwide.

The results make Libya unique among countries that have held elections after Arab Spring uprisings. Voters in the North African nation chose a more liberal coalition to lead, while voters in Egypt and Tunisia both opted for Islamist parties.

The balance of power in the 200-seat General National Congress, however, remains up in the air.

Libyans light up a flare Saturday, July 7, in Benghazi as they celebrate the country's first free national election in decades after the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Libyans light up a flare Saturday, July 7, in Benghazi as they celebrate the country's first free national election in decades after the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Libya's historic election
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Libya\'s Historic Election Libya's Historic Election

Head of leading Libyan political party calls for unity

Eighty seats are allocated to political entities, while 120 are reserved for individual candidates, which means the NFA's electoral victory does not automatically grant it a majority.

The results, though complete, are not yet final. Rivals have a 14-day period to file appeals, after which the results will be certified.

Libyans voted July 7 for the assembly that will appoint a transitional government and oversee the drafting of a constitution. About 3,500 candidates ran for the new parliament.

The assembly, which will take over from the National Transitional Council, will have 30 days from its first meeting to appoint a prime minister.

Libya's game changer: Mahmoud Jibril
What's next for Libya after elections?
First election since Gadhafi's ouster
Libya's road to democracy

The NFA is led by Mahmoud Jibril, who was prime minister in the interim government that declared Libya a free nation after the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi in October. The mercurial Gadhafi dismantled many of the civic institutions common to democratic states during his 42 years in power, leaving Libya struggling to emerge from his shadow.

While Gadhafi's death ended much of the violence, unrest continues in parts of the country, particularly the south and the west, and the government has not been able to completely contain the militias that helped overthrow the former leader.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour last week, Jibril said that it is vital for Islamists, liberals and secularists to "sit around one table" and form a new government.

"I think the biggest challenge right now is to convince our potential partners, especially the Islamist forces, that now it's time that we sit around one table and talk about one destiny that is in the interest of the Libyan people," he said from Tripoli. "It has nothing to do with who prevails in those elections or those who do not prevail."

Jibril said the absence of a civic structure in Libya means people of all political ideologies can be part of a new government.

"It's an opportunity that all parties, all political forces can have a new start where all of them can participate and take part in the reestablishment of the state," he said.

The NFA is a coalition of 58 political parties that campaigned as a "more liberal, progressive option" and focused heavily on economic issues, according to the Project on Middle East Democracy, a U.S.-based group.

Bucking the trend of the Arab Spring

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