TRIPOLI, Libya -- The killing of an electoral worker and calls for a boycott on the eve of Libya's first vote since the overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi raised fears of election violence even as campaigning came to an end Friday for a contest seen as a milestone on the country's bumpy path toward democracy.
Saturday's election of a 200-member transitional parliament caps a messy nine-month transition after a ruinous 2011 civil war that ended in October with the death of Gadhafi, whose four-decade rule left the country deeply divided along regional, tribal and ideological lines.
The parliament will elect a new transitional government to replace the one appointed by the National Transitional Council that led the rebel side during the eight-month war and held power in its aftermath.
Many in Libya's oil-rich east feel slighted by the NTC-issued election laws, purportedly based on population, that allocate their region less than a third of the parliamentary seats, with the rest going to the western region that includes Tripoli and the sparsely settled desert south.
In what it called an attempt to defuse east-west tensions, the NTC decreed Thursday that the new parliament will not be responsible for naming the panel that will draft a new constitution. Instead, the drafters will be directly elected by the public in a separate vote at a later date.
But this has not satisfied some in the east, who press for a boycott. "We don't want Tripoli to rule all of Libya," said Fadlallah Haroun, a former rebel commander in the east's regional capital, Benghazi.
On Friday, gunmen shot down a helicopter carrying polling materials near Benghazi, killing one election commission worker, said NTC spokesman Saleh Darhoub.