My brother had called me on Sunday to warn me that they were attacking the National Election Committee building. I was close to my home, and saw that a neighbour was getting ready to drive over there, so I decided to go with him so I could see what was going on and be a witness.
I got there at around 7pm. The area was swarming with people, hundreds of people, some of whom were carrying Kalashnikovs or other guns. There were also some young people with big knives. They were shouting slogans against the NTC and its leader Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil. There was also a fire next to the fence near the building, and nobody stopped us from walking right up to the entrance, because everything was wide open. There we saw a pile of burning papers that looked like official documents.
Outside Benghazi's HNEC offices. Photo posted on Facebook by Samir Bayou.
They said they had attacked the building because they felt like the distribution of seats in parliament was unfair, and because they want Cyrenaica to be a federalised state. Part of the reason people think this way is because Cyrenaica has so much oil. They feel that they were treated unfairly by Gaddafi because he took all the oil money from the east and spent it elsewhere. I think they believe that if they are autonomous, they will be richer. But I believe in a unified Libya.
A charred Libyan election guide. Photo posted on Facebook by Samir Bayou.
Everything has gone back to normal since Sunday’s violence, the mood here is calm. While there are some people who are thinking about boycotting the elections next weekend, almost all of my friends, work colleagues and family are planning on voting. It’s the only way we will ever have a constitution. I plan on taking my mother with me so she can cast her ballot. I think that under normal circumstances, a lot of people wouldn’t bother voting. But since Sunday, I think a lot of people in Cyrenaica see the ballot as almost a challenge – they want to prove that there are Cyrenaicans who will vote, despite the attack.