Ban Ki-Moon Salutes Libyans Ahead of First Free Elections in Decades

Ahead of Libya's first free elections in decades this weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today saluted its people, and reaffirmed the support of the United Nations as the North African country progresses along the "road to democracy."

"On Saturday, you will exercise a right that you have been denied for more than four decades, the right to vote, the right to elect a new National Congress – this is a milestone in Libya's long march toward democracy," Mr. Ban said in a video message.

"The United Nations is proud to have assisted in the birth of an independent Libya. We will stand by you as you build a fully free and democratic state," he added.

Some 2.7 million people in the North African nation have registered to vote for members of the new National Congress, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for Libya. More than 3,000 candidates are competing for office, including more than 600 women.

The polls, which were originally slated to be held in late June, will be the first free elections in decades in Libya, where Muammar al-Qadhafi ruled for more than 40 years until a pro-democracy uprising last year led to civil war and the deposing of his regime.

"This is, truly, a moment for national celebration. We all know the road to democracy is long and hard. We share your aspiration for a peaceful and prosperous Libya founded on the principles of justice, human rights, inclusiveness and accountability," Mr. Ban said.

The Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ian Martin, has previously described the impending polls as "an important step in Libya's road to recovery and democracy," and as being one part of a process that requires addressing key issues in the country's transition such as ensuring public security, promoting human rights, tackling arms proliferation and ensuring border security.


UN News Service

Thursday is the last day of campaigning in Libya’s first democratic elections in more than 40 years.

Libyans will go to the polls on Saturday to elect new leaders.