Tripoli: The leader of one of Libya’s main Islamist parties said on Sunday that a rival liberal coalition had a solid advantage after the country’s first election since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi .

“The National Forces Alliance achieved good results in some large cities except Misrata. They have a net lead in Tripoli and in Benghazi," said Mohammed Sawan, who heads the Justice and Construction party.

The bulk of Libya’s population and registered voters are concentrated in the capital, which lies in the west of the oil-rich desert country, and in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Libyan election workers start the counting process at a polling station in the western city of Misrata on 7 July 2012. AFP

Libyans on Saturday voted for a General National Congress, a 200-member legislative assembly which will steer the country through a transition period following the toppling and killing of Gadhafi last year.

A total of 80 seats in the incoming congress are reserved for political entities while the remaining 120 are open to individual candidates, some of which are openly allied to specific parties.

From the parties, the National Forces coalition of ex-wartime prime minister Mahmud Jibril is seen as the key liberal contender, facing competition from two Islamist groups - the Justice and Construction party and Al-Wattan.

Sawan said that results were mixed in terms of which party was performing better at the polls when it comes down to allies and sympathisers who are running as individual candidates.

Votes are still being tallied by Libya’s electoral commission with preliminary results expected within 48 hours.