Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Libya: Elections delayed until 7 July

It was announced on 10 June by the president of the Electoral Commission, Nuri-al-Abbar, after a meeting with the National Transitional Council (NTC), that the elections for the 200 seats in the National General Congress have been delayed from the original date of 19 June until 7 July. This was said to be for “logistical and technical reasons” but, in reality, the process simply ran out of days, with more time being required for both voters to register and for rejected candidates to appeal.

Candidates who wished to stand in the election were informed on 9 June of their success or failure and those wanting to challenge their omission from the approved list were provided with a 48 hour window of opportunity to appeal. Because the appeal process takes five days, it was impossible to even have a definitive list of candidates before 15 June which would have only left them four days to campaign before the original election date.

It is obviously important that there are no further delays and that the election does indeed take place on 7 July. This year, Ramadan begins on around 20 July and lasts until 19 August and it is essential for both political and logistical reasons that the elections have taken place before it begins As it is, however, it will almost certainly be September before a new and more representative government is in place and Libya can finally begin to move forward..

Meanwhile, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff was nominated as the leader of the EU's 21-man team of election monitors who arrived in the country on 9 June to assess the validity of the elections as they are conducted throughout the country.

It should perhaps be noted that the EU's monitoring team gave the 10 May election in neighbouring Algeria a clean bill of health, despite not only being too small to visit more than a fraction of the polling stations but also being refused access to even the electoral role. The EU has since been embarrassed because an official Algerian government-appointed committee has shocked the country, not by the fact that the elections were rigged which everyone knew, but with the strength of the report's language and that the report was allowed to be published at all. Given Libya's sheer size, it is difficult to see how a 21-man team of observers will be able to monitor the election properly.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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