HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN? – AT 10:10 A.M. ET: Libya votes in its first free election in many years today. Aren't you excited? Can't you wait for the result? Why do we think that no Winston Churchill will emerge?
(Reuters) - Crowds of joyful Libyans, some with tears in their eyes, parted with the legacy of Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorship on Saturday as they voted in the first free national election in 60 years.
But in the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of last year's uprising but where many now want more autonomy from the interim government in Tripoli, protesters stormed a handful of polling stations and publicly burned hundreds of ballot papers.
Eric Holder will forgive them.
Authorities also reported a case of gunmen preventing voters from entering polling stations in the eastern oil port town of Ras Lanuf, but said 94 percent of polling stations around the North African country were up and running normally.
Libyans are choosing a 200-member assembly which will elect a prime minister and cabinet before laying the ground for full parliamentary elections next year under a new constitution.
Candidates with Islamic agendas dominate the field of more than 3,700 hopefuls, suggesting Libya will be the next Arab Spring country - after Egypt and Tunisia - to see religious parties secure a grip on power.
Must be wonderful news for women.
In Benghazi, protesters stormed a polling station just after voting started and set fire to hundreds of ballot slips in a public square in a bid to undermine the election's credibility.
Analysts say it is hard to predict the political make-up of the new assembly, but parties and candidates professing an attachment to Islamic values dominate and very few are running on an exclusively secular ticket.
The Justice and Construction offshoot of Libya's Muslim Brotherhood is tipped to do well, as is al-Watan, the party of former CIA detainee and Islamist insurgent Abdel Hakim Belhadj.
COMMENT: Libya in the spring, tra-la, tra-la. The combination of Islamist domination of the Arab world and an Obama second term should be enough to send any of us to the bunker, with a four-year supply of Slurpees and Big Macs.
July 7, 2012