NEWS
07/07/2012 09:49 BST | Updated 07/07/2012 13:41 BST

Libya Elections: Historic Day As Voters Go To The Polls For The First Time In 50 Years

The citizens of Libya are voting this weekend in the country's first free elections in half a century, following the fall of Muammar Gaddafi last year.

However, despite the upheaval of Gaddafi's regime, the country is still plagued by pockets of violence across the country, which could derail the vote.

Polling stations have been sabotaged, cards burned and boycotts called for by opponents to the proposed new political set-up in the country.

The public are tasked with selecting a 200-man assembly, who will oversee the formation of a new democratic government under a prime minister and the creation of a constitution.

Currently running the country is the National Transitional Council (NTC), which has been in power since the end of the civil war but will be superseded by the new parliament.

One woman shows her inked finger after casting her vote

In the city of Benghazi, large protests were held with ballot slips set alight and an electoral worker killed by gunfire in the city on the eve of the vote.

A team of European Union observers are in the country to monitor the elections and their leader, Alexander Lambsdorff, said the poll marked a major milestone in the transition to democracy after 42-years of dictatorship.

"We believe that to have this election in Libya less than one year after the fall of Tripoli is an important achievement," he said.

"We only hope that the situation remains peaceful across the country."

Tripoli polling stations saw large queues as crowds merged to cast their vote

With poll booths opening at 6am UK time, there were mixed reports on how certain areas of the country were set to handle the elections.

In the capital, Tripoli, long lines of voters queued to have their say, while in the eastern regions of the country, it was unclear whether polling stations would be kept on schedule, or if many would show up, with boycotts being called for by sectors of the public unhappy with the proposed assembly structure.

READ: 'Libya positive about future,' says British Council in Tripoli

Some in the east of the country, which includes Benghazi, believe they have been short-changed on the number of assembly seats allocated to the region and have called for the election to be boycotted.

The country follows North African neighbours such as Tunisia and Egypt in overthrowing unpopular, dictatorial leaderships and electing a government for the first time in a generation.