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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid