Libya elections: registration opens ahead of landmark vote

Candidates now able to lodge applications at High National Electoral Commission offices

A Libyan man registers to vote inside a polling station in Tripoli on November 8. AFP
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Libya has opened registration for candidates in presidential and parliamentary polls ahead of the country's landmark elections in December as it seeks to move on from a decade of war.

Libya's first direct presidential poll, with a first-round on December 24, is the climax of a process launched last year by the UN to draw a line under years of violence since the revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

But, despite a year of relative peace following a ceasefire between eastern and western camps, the process has been overshadowed by wrangling over the legal basis for the votes and powers of whoever wins.

That has sparked fears of a return to violence in the event of a contested result.

Candidates are able to lodge applications at offices of the High National Electoral Commission in the three main cities in Libya's west, east and south until November 22, the body said on Sunday. Parliamentary candidates have until December 7 to do so.

“Everyone is worried about respect for the election results,” Anas El Gomati, director of Libya-based think tank the Sadeq Institute, told AFP.

He cited perceived “fragile military conditions on the ground and lack of preparation to organise free and fair elections in a state divided between rival military factions".

'Real start of the process'

Speculation has been mounting for months over possible presidential bids by eastern-based military head Khalifa Haftar, and by Qaddafi's son Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, both deeply divisive figures.

Former interior minister Fathi Bashagha has confirmed he will run and an advisor to Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said he will register, while others expected to do so include diplomats Aref Al Nayed and Ibrahim Dabbachi, as well as comedian Hatem Al Kour.

The opening of candidacies “is the real start of the electoral process,” the head of the electoral commission Imad Al Sayeh told reporters on Sunday. Both presidential and parliamentary elections are slated for December 24, but in early October, parliament split the dates of the vote by postponing legislative elections until January.

However, foreign powers have been pushing hard for both elections to be still held on the same date, as agreed at UN-led talks last year.

More than 2.8 million of Libya's seven million residents have registered to vote.

Updated: November 09, 2021, 7:47 AM