File - Libya’s Head of Electoral Commission, Emad al-Sayeh File - Libya’s Head of Electoral Commission, Emad al-Sayeh

Libya’s Head of EC talks about 2018 elections

Sat, Jan. 13, 2018
CAIRO – 13 January 2018: Amid alert and hope, Libya is looking to hold its presidential and legislative elections during 2018 to formally announce that it made it through very difficult situations that began with the toppling of former President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and ended with defeating the Islamic State terrorist group in 2017.

For more details about how Libya has prepared for the upcoming elections and the possible candidates, Egypt Today interviewed the head of the Electoral Commission in Libya, Emad al-Sayeh, who revealed that they are waiting for the Elections Regulating Law, which will allow the commission to pursue its work.

Until then, the commission is updating its database for the eligible voters based on law-article No. 8 for 2013. “This procedure will save us time and effort after receiving the elections law. We need almost three to four months of preparations after receiving the law, so this step was necessary to be taken earlier,” Sayeh said.

About 485,000 Libyan citizens have registered their names during the past months at the commission. This number, however, is considered to be very low, as the past number of voters registered at the commission was two million people out of 4.5 million eligible Libyan voters according to Sayeh.

“We are seeking at least 50 percent from the number we have in our records already (two million) to say that the elections are going according to international standards. The period we announced for updating registrations still has three more weeks, and I think more people will show up,” he stated.

Sayeh expected huge participation from the Libyans in the upcoming elections. “We announced that we need almost 66 million Libyan dinars ($49 million) as a budget for the elections process; however, all that we have for now is only 1.5 million dinars,” he said.

“The legislative elections should be before the presidential one, as known already; however, all parties inside the country should agree over the procedures and final results,” Sayeh added. He affirmed that the United Nations will be able to participate in these elections only by offering experts and observers to monitor the election’s process. “It can’t give us any financial aid, as it’s not part of its international role” he explained.

The Libyan army was most preferred by Sayeh to secure the elections without needing the U.N. forces to interfere. “Citizens will be keen more than anyone to make this elections succeed,” he expected.

What about Libya’s constitution?

“Until this moment, Libya doesn’t have a constitution that could be agreed upon by all parties and citizens, so we can’t hold the elections before conducting a referendum on a constitution that will guarantee moving into another transition phase of the country that includes having elections,” Sayeh said.

He clarified that after conducting the referendum on a new constitution, the country will be prepared for having both the presidential and legislative elections during 2018.

Military personnel are not banned from participating in the election process as voters, according to the past laws, Sayeh stated; however, he added that if they [military personnel] wished to participate in the elections as candidates, they must resign from their military positions.

According to Sayeh, most of the election’s observers are expected to be regular citizens, and especially teachers, as it was during Libya’s past elections.

Anyone could be eligible for electing him/her self as a candidate, according to Sayeh, including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan president. “He received a general amnesty from the government. He is not wanted over any cases or accusations, so he can elect himself if he wants,” Sayeh stated.

Saif al-Islam, who enjoys the support of major tribes in Libya, was recently rumored to be considering electing himself in the election expected during this year.

“Egypt’s stance is compactly clear. They support the political solution, which includes conducting the elections. This is the exact same as what we consider the only solution for our country and all Libyans during 2018,” Sayeh affirmed.

In December 2015, 22 Libyan parliamentarians signed the Skhirat Agreement in Morocco to end the civil war that erupted in Libya in 2014. The Skhirat Agreement was put into practice on April 6, 2016.

The Government of National Accord, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, was the first concrete outcome from the Skhirat Agreement. The first meeting of the cabinet of the Government of National Accord took place on January 2, 2016 in Tunisia.

Additional reporting by Ahmed Gomaa

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