Faltering steps forward for Libya's postponed elections

Faltering steps forward for Libya's postponed elections
3 min read
21 January, 2022
A new commission has been formed to approve candidates for Libya's presidential elections amid US and UN pressure to hold them soon after they were delayed last December
Negotiations to reschedule a date for Libya's elections are ongoing [AFP]

Libya’s National Election Commission (NEC) announced on Thursday the formation of two new committees with the power to review and revise electoral lists for all Libyan elections, including the authority to investigate the original list of approved candidates submitted on 25 November 2021. 

The new committees, announced by the NEC on their official Facebook page, are charged with examining the procedures  by which electoral lists were compiled, reports of falsified documents and an investigation into how the appeals process functioned to re-admit Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, as a presidential candidate. 

US and UN officials have been applying pressure on Libya's interim Government of National Unity and the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum to set new dates for elections.

Both UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the US ambassador to Libya have urged Libyan politicians to make a clear commitment to free and fair elections this year. 

Aguila Saleh calls for imminent new dates

The formation of new committees follows Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh's call last Tuesday for a firm promise of re-scheduled elections before the end of February.

Saleh urged the commission to coordinate electoral roadmaps with the Office of the Attorney General and Libya’s Law Enforcement Agency. 

He stressed the need for communication between the commission and all sides involved in arranging new elections.

He requested the delivery of their report by the end of this month, to clear the way for rescheduled dates. 

The committee formed to review the lists of candidates for the presidential election indicated that any upcoming vote would be based around prior lists - and not open the door to any new candidates. 

Electoral Commission urges patience 

Commission president Emad al-Sayeh said that the commission had faced a number of obstacles while preparing for the elections on 24 December 2021, including forged references of candidacy. 

Al-Sayeh told the House that the committees’ reviews “would take considerable time”, in his speech.

“To re-establish all the necessary capacities for holding elections, the commission would need between 6 to 8 months” said al-Sayeh, countering Aguila Saleh’s claims that elections must be held as soon as next month. 

“Those excluded from the presidential race first time round were found to have forged documents and have criminal records” he said - as in the case of Seif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, who was returned to the list after a successful appeal.

The President of the NEC also alleged that “many political factions and armed groups had threatened the Commission against publishing the electoral lists”, bemoaning Libya’s security situation and the continuous obstacles to their work getting done. 

Al-Sayeh implored the House of Representatives to produce “more electoral legislation which will bring legitimacy to the work of the commission” and to review existing laws that currently surround the running of elections.