Libya: On Election Day, UN Urges Libyans to Participate in Constitution-Making Process

Polling stations are open today across most of Libya in elections that the top United Nations official in the country say is an opportunity for voters to have their voice heard and contribute to a new State's constitution.

The elections, the second vote held in the country since the February 17 Revolution in 2011 that toppled Muammar al-Qadhafi, is to select a 60-member assembly that will draft a new Constitution.

"I trust that all who can will participate today in a peaceful and mindful manner," Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Tarek Mitri stressed, adding that Libyans has sacrificed "so much" for the revolution.

"In a transition, a second election may not motivate people and mobilize energies in the same way the first elections did," he noted. "But we call on Libyans not to underestimate the importance of these elections."

Once selected in today's vote, the constitutional assembly will have 120 days to draft a new constitution. The document will be submitted to a popular referendum. If approved, it would help move Libya along its democratic path.

The UN Support Mission (UNSMIL), mandated to support the people and Government of Libya to ensure the success of the country's democratic transition, said it values the decision by the General National Congress to call for early elections as soon as possible in order to prevent any potential constitutional vacuum.

In a statement on the eve of the polls, Mr. Mitri congratulated the Libyan people and the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) on the elections and noted that the Constitution-Drafting Assembly will pave the way towards a basic foundation for a modern Libyan State with institutions "based on the rule of law and respect for human rights."

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