Italy Hails 'Watershed' Libyan Electionإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Italy hailed Libya's first free national election in decades as a "watershed" moment for its former colony and crucial energy source on Sunday, and said it was a decisive step forward towards democracy.
The General National Congress election on Saturday "marks a key watershed in the history of the country, constituting a decisive step forward in strengthening the democratic process," Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in a statement.
Turnout was put at 60 percent by Libya's Electoral Commission, according to preliminary figures, as voters flocked to cast their ballots after the ouster of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, although protests disrupted some polling.
"Despite isolated episodes of violence, Libyans have proved they strongly believe in their re-found democracy by turning out to the polls in great numbers," Terzi said, noting in particular "the high participation of women."
Italy encourages the Libyan people "to consolidate their democratic institutions and find the path to economic and social development through the commitment laid down in the Tripoli Declaration last January," he said.
The new "Tripoli Declaration" signed at the start of 2012 by Italy and Libya follows on from a "friendship treaty" signed by Gadhafi and former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and redefined ties following the uprising.
Libya's colonial ruler from 1911 until World War II, Italy had been a close ally and economic partner of the ousted regime since the 2008 treaty.
More than 180 Italian businesses had taken advantage of the favorable terms for trade links, including aerospace and defense giant Finmeccanica and oil major ENI, which is the biggest foreign energy producer in Libya.
Italy also played a crucial role in a NATO air war against Gadhafi and has treated hundreds of people wounded in the conflict.