Washington — Libyans participated in their first election since the October 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi's 41-year regime in what President Obama says is a milestone for the country's "extraordinary transition to democracy."
In a July 7 statement, Obama said the vote for representatives in Libya's National Congress "underscores that the future of Libya is in the hands of the Libyan people" and noted that most had participated in an election for the first time in their lives.
"The United States is proud of the role that we played in supporting the Libyan revolution and protecting the Libyan people, and we look forward to working closely with the new Libya -- including the elected Congress and Libya's new leaders," he said.
The president said Americans will partner with the Libyan people to "build open and transparent institutions, establish security and the rule of law, advance opportunity, and promote unity and national reconciliation" and said Libya can count on U.S. friendship and support.
According to press reports, nearly 1.8 million of 2.8 million registered voters cast their ballots July 7, making a turnout of around 65 percent. The 200-seat National Congress will name Libya's new prime minister and Cabinet, as well as prepare Libya for parliamentary elections in 2013 following the drafting of the country's new constitution.
Speaking in Tokyo July 8, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that, after Qadhafi's long rule, "men and women from every corner of Libya are beginning to determine their own future. And it will be the will of the people, not the whim of a dictator."
The secretary said the vote had been a "historic milestone," but that hard work lies ahead in building "an effective, transparent government that unifies the country and delivers for the Libyan people."
"The United States stands ready to assist Libyans in their transition to a free, democratic Libya at peace with your neighbors and where every Libyan has a chance to fulfill his or her God-given potential," Clinton said.