CAIRO: Hundreds took to the streets in several Libyan cities to protest against the cancellation of Friday’s long-awaited presidential election, a blow to hopes of ending a decade of chaos in the North African country.
Several parliamentary candidates and political groups have called for the protests, which underline risks to a fragile stability in the oil-rich nation that’s a haven for militias and still riven by an east-west divide.
Libya’s election commission has proposed Jan. 24 as a new date for the presidential poll, which was to be followed by parliamentary elections on Feb. 15. But no dates have been officially set or agreed upon by the country’s rival factions.
At a Benghazi rally, protesters raised banners reading “yes for elections, no for postponement.”
“All of Libya must have elections on time. We reject any postponement or manipulation of the Libyan will,” Mohamed Alorfy, an activist told the crowd.
The US, UK, France, Germany and Italy on Friday jointly called on Libyan authorities to swiftly determine a date for the polling and to issue the final list of presidential candidates.
Earlier, many parliamentary hopefuls have circulated a poster calling for rallies on what they dubbed “Salvation Friday.”
The poster listed the demands of protesters, namely to set Jan. 24 as a final deadline for the poll.
“Do not be passive. Take to the streets and express your opinion. Force them to respect your will,” Al-Salhen Al-Nihoom, a parliamentary candidate from Benghazi, wrote on his Facebook page.
Protesters have also rallied for the same purpose in other cities and towns of eastern Libya including Tobruk and Derna. Small groups also took to the streets in the western city of Misrata, the southern village of Gatroun and the town of Hun in central Libya.