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Historic Voting Continues in Libya Despite Violence

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images(TRIPOLI, Libya) -- Voting in Libya’s first free election in decades continued for a second day on Sunday at polling stations that were closed the day before thanks to violence, which prevented citizens from casting ballots.

Preliminary results could be announced as early as Monday, according to the state-run LANA news agency.

Libya’s High National Election Commission says approximately 1.7 million Libyans -- roughly about 60 percent of the nation's 2.8 million registered voters -- cast ballots on Saturday.

Voters are choosing from more than 3,500 candidates running to fill a 200-seat national assembly that will establish a transitional government.  The assembly will craft a constitution and establish a procedure for a presidential election in 2013.

Tripoli’s main square has become the focal point for celebrations since Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule ended nine months ago, and it has been filled this past weekend with cars honking horns and people waving flags while chanting, “Raise your head up high, you are a free Libyan."

The area was once called Green Square for Gadhafi's Green Book that outlined his political philosophy, but it’s now known as Martyr's Square for those who died during last year’s revolution.

Violence on Saturday included protesters setting fire to two polling centers in the eastern city of Benghazi.  Six other polling centers in other cities either opened just hours before they were scheduled to close or did not open at all.

Many of the protesters are Libyans in the eastern part of the country who feel they will be underrepresented in the national assembly.  Libyans in the east had always felt largely neglected during Gadhafi's long rule, and despite the eastern city of Benghazi emerging as the center of the Libyan revolution, many residents feel their uprising has been taken over by Libyans in the west, in Tripoli.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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