Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Voting Begins in Canada for a New Post-Gadhafi Government in Libya

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Voting Begins in Canada for a New Post-Gadhafi Government in Libya

Article excerpt

Libyan-Canadians go to post-Gadhafi polls

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OTTAWA - Salah Dau never allowed himself to believe there would be free elections in Libya, not so long as Moammar Gadhafi was alive.

Unable to hold back his emotions Tuesday, Dau wept openly as he cast a ballot for the first time in his life -- not in Libya, but in Canada's capital.

"I've seen only one regime in my life, 42 years, always (under) a dictatorship," Dau said after voting at a west-end arena and having his right index finger blotted with ink.

"To be able to be free and express myself, express my opinion, to say what I feel about anything, it's just unimaginable."

More tears and hugs followed as a group of Libyan-Canadians who were among organizers of the five-day vote cast ballots in an election of a new government and a 200-seat national assembly in Libya.

The voting comes less than a year after the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi at the hands of rebel fighters, aided by NATO air forces, including fighter jets from Canada.

Canada is among just six countries where Libyans living abroad are able to vote. The others are the United States, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Adel Esayed, national director for the voting in Canada, was also emotional after placing his completed ballot in a sealed plastic bin.

Canada was chosen, he said, because the country "contributed to the revolution."

A Canadian general commanded the NATO-led, UN-sanctioned air campaign over Libya last year. Canada also contributed seven CF-18 jet fighters to the international effort, one of eight countries to participate in the air campaign.

Voting in Libya itself is set to take place on Saturday. There are an estimated 3,000 to 3,500 Libyan Canadians living across the country who are eligible to vote.

Looking back on the turmoil that led to Gadhafi's ouster and execution, Esayed said violence was the only way to bring an end to decades of oppression in Libya. …

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