The last elections were held in 1964, when the country was led by King Idriss. He was deposed in a coup 5 years later by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who banned political parties and practically all institutions. The election was initially scheduled for June 19 but was delayed to July 7 because of logistical challenges in a country still recovering from last year's revolt, Libya's electoral commission said.
Voters can choose among 2,501 independents and 1,206 candidates fielded from 142 parties, among these the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Development Party, former leader of Islamic Libyan Combatants Abdel Hakim Belhaj's Al-Watan Party, and the National Forces, a moderate coalition led by former premier of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mahmoud Jibril. There are 629 women candidates, or 3.4% of the total. Eighty of the assembly's 200 seats will go to political parties and the rest to independent candidates. Candidates win by majority votes, and parties win by proportional votes.
Results will most probably be turned in before the beginning of Ramadan, July 20. Libya is currently governed by the NTC, which is an internationally recognized unelected body of civic and tribal leaders and Gaddafi opponents, and which will step down once the newly elected assembly holds its first session.
The assembly's job will be to oversee the government, draft a new constitution, which must be ratified by popular referendum, and schedule a new round of elections in 2013.
Libyans began registering for the election in May and around 2.7 million people, or about 80% of eligible voters, have put their names down to participate in what for many will be their first time ever at the polls. International observers from the UN, the EU and the Carter Center are present to ensure transparency, while worries about voters' security still abound following an armed attack on the Benghazi electoral commission offices on Sunday. (ANSAMed).