News / Middle East

Libyan Election to Go Ahead Next Week Despite Political Chaos

Workers prepare election campaign posters for Libya's House of Representatives in Tripoli, June 18, 2014
Workers prepare election campaign posters for Libya's House of Representatives in Tripoli, June 18, 2014
Reuters
Libya's second national election since the 2011 ouster of strongman Moammer Gadhafi will go ahead next week despite growing political chaos, organizational troubles and the prospect of a low turnout.
 
Dismissing doubts among foreign diplomats that Tripoli could arrange the vote in only a month, election commission head Emad Al-Sayeh told Reuters that preparations for polling on June 25 were coming along well and staff were being trained.
 
The challenges are daunting. Libya's government and parliament are deadlocked, militias and tribal groups hold sway over parts of the country and a renegade general has launched his own campaign against Islamic militants in the east.
 
But instead of taking months of preparation as diplomats thought it needed, the election commission opted for a quick vote. Sayeh sounded confident its initiative would pay off.
 
“The commission has finished the last preparations of the elections,” he said, adding that 1,601 polling stations around the country had been readied.
 
He said there were “positive indications” that the vote would go ahead even in Benghazi, the eastern city where fighting takes place almost daily between forces of renegade General Khalifa Haftar and Islamist militants.
 
A Western diplomat said the government was adamant the vote should go ahead and noted that voting for a constitutional committee in February went ahead in most areas.
 
“There will be challenges to open polling stations in some places in the east and south,” he said. “The bigger question would be what will happen after the election, whether tensions will ease.”
 
The General National Congress (GNC) assembly decided in February to step down after its initial mandate had ended, bowing to pressure from voters who blame political infighting for Libya's bumpy transition to democracy.
 
Low turnout likely
 
Libya's neighbors and Western partners hope the election will provide a push for state building and help the oil producer overcome some of its deep divisions between Islamists and more moderate forces as well as competing tribes and regions.
 
Turnout looks like it could be low. Over 1.5 million voters have registered, roughly half of the 2.8 million registered in July 2012 in Libya's first free election in more than 40 years.
 
The commission has tightened registration rules by requiring voters to show a national identification number. Many Libyans in the south and the east do not have one because insecurity there there has hampered the development of such basic state services.
 
Some people have also avoided getting a state identity card because it would make it harder to exploit the country's chaos and claim several state salaries. Clamping down on such fraud  was one of the state's reasons for introducing the number.
 
Western diplomats hope the vote will ease tensions in the OPEC oil producer but some fear it could produce yet another interim assembly. Legal experts have still not finished working out a new constitution for the post-Gadhafi political system.
 
The new parliament will made up again of 200 seats but be called House of Representatives, replacing the current name GNC linked by many Libyans with the country's stalemate.
 
Thirty-two seats are allocated for women, said Sayeh. Only  10,087 voters have been registered abroad, reflecting the lack of time to organize voting in embassies.
 
Sayeh said a total of 1,628 candidates will compete, around thousand less than at the last vote. Some candidates have started putting up posters but, given the short time available, there has been no real election campaign like in 2012.
 
The vote will also be marred by a boycott of the Amazigh, or Berber, minority that demands a stronger say in the body drafting the constitution. The Amazigh have seized oil installations in the past to press for their demands.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More