Imed al-Sayeh is the head of Libya’s High National Election Commission. He says that Libya is ready for the presidential and parliamentary elections.
The head of the electoral commission said that preparations are nearly complete for the polls in Libyan war-torn Libya. This is despite the fact that there has been much debate about voting laws and warnings that the outcome could be challenged.
Imed al-Sayeh (head of the country’s High National Election Commission, HNEC) stated that “we are 80 to 90 percent ready” for the December and January presidential and parliamentary elections. He spoke with the AFP news agency.
He stated that he believed there would be a strong turnout for the elections, particularly since there will be direct presidential votes for the first time in Libya’s independence [in 1952],” he stated at his Tripoli office.
These polls are part a UN-backed peace process, which has seen a year in relative peace after a ceasefire between the eastern and western camps of North Africa’s country.
However, there are still questions about the legal and constitutional basis for the ballots and who can stand.
Analysts warn of conflict if there is any dispute.
Initially, the presidential and parliamentary votes were set for the same day, December 24, but Tuesday saw parliament announce that the first legislative elections in the country since 2014 would be delayed until January.
According to the HNEC, more than 2.8million Libyans registered for the polls in August from a population of approximately seven million.
Since Muammar Gaddafi’s 2011 overthrow, violence has ravaged Libya. He had ruled the country, which is vastly oil-rich, with iron fist since he took power in a 1969 coup.
After UN-hosted talks, a ceasefire was reached between the rival western and eastern governments in October. A transitional government was elected to take the country to elections at the end.
This week, Tobruk’s eastern-based parliament adopted a law regarding legislative polls. However, it was rejected by Tripoli’s western-based Upper Chamber, the High Council of State.
This controversy arose weeks after parliament passed a bill regarding presidential polls. Critics claim that it bypassed due process and was tailored to favor Khalifa Haftar, an eastern strongman and renegade military commander.
Sayeh stated Tuesday that the HNEC has yet to be given the law on legislative elections.
He said that after it has, “measures must then be taken to proceed with the next stage, which is registering candidacies”.
With 11 weeks remaining, hopefuls still have to declare their candidacy. Campaigning has not officially started.
Haftar, who led an unsuccessful, year-long armed campaign to capture the capital, will likely stand in the presidential election. He has temporarily renounced his military role, as required by the new law.
He isn’t the only controversial person expected to run for president.
In July, Saif al Islam Gaddafi (son of Muammar) gave a rare interview to The New York Times. He suggested that he might also run.
Sayeh stated, “Everyone can participate in this process and every Libyan who has an identity number can run for the presidency vote.”
Although he acknowledged that there are still logistical challenges, he insisted that they can be solved.
He stated that “the most important thing is for all political actors to agree on how elections are run and their results to be accepted.”
Analysts warn that a dispute could lead to the end of Libya’s fragile peace.
Anas El-Gomati, director at the Sadeq Institute in Libya, said that “on the day of polls, the big issue will be whether or no… the integrity of vote will be questioned.”