June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Campaigning began today in Libya’s first national parliamentary election since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, with security in the North African nation a continuing issue.
A total of more than 3,700 candidates are vying for seats in the 200-seat legislature, the election commission reported on its website. The commission said that 142 parties are running in the election, and that women account for 539 of the total number of candidates.
The ballot, delayed to July 7, comes as Libya’s interim leadership struggles to restore order in a nation ruled for 42 years by Qaddafi. It has been unable to curb the militias who played a key role in the uprising, and the east has moved to form a semi-autonomous region. Two British close-protection officers were wounded last week in a rocket attack in Benghazi on the U.K. ambassador, while bombs have targeted the Red Cross in Misrata and the U.S. mission in Benghazi this month.
Qaddafi was killed by rebel militiamen in October following a seven-month long, United-Nations authorized campaign against his forces by combat aircraft from France, the U.K. and the U.S.
Meanwhile, the economy has stumbled despite the nation’s oil wealth. Libya sits atop North Africa’s largest crude reserves.
The new legislature will be charged with appointing a new prime minister and Cabinet and drawing up the country’s new constitution.
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