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Mar 21, 5:08 AM EDT

Rights group says Libya must act to make 2018 election fair

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CAIRO (AP) -- Human Rights Watch says Libyan authorities would need to take drastic steps to ensure a general election planned for later this year is free and fair.

The U.S.-based group said Wednesday the vote "must be held in an environment free of coercion, discrimination, or intimidation." Those conditions will be hard to meet in Libya, which was plunged into chaos after a 2011 uprising.

The rights group said free speech, assembly, and the rule of law must be respected, with "a functioning judiciary that is able to deal fairly and promptly with disputes concerning the elections."

Deputy Middle East and North Africa director Eric Goldstein says "Libya today couldn't be further away from respect for the rule of law and human rights, let alone from acceptable conditions for free elections."

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