Libya election head orders poll committees to be disbanded before vote

Leaked memo says electoral committees will be dissolved with only two days to go until elections

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The head of Libya's electoral commission has ordered that polling committees be disbanded, barely two days before presidential elections.

An official announcement on delaying the voting, which has been expected for days, has yet to be made.

The National confirmed the authenticity of a leaked memo signed by High National Election Commission head Emad Sayeh, on Tuesday. In the document, Mr Sayeh ordered poll committees to be dissolved, amid unconfirmed rumours of his imminent resignation.

However, a source at the commission said on Wednesday morning that work was continuing as usual.

“The head is doing his work and the board members are in their offices,” the source said.

The commission has made no announcement on the vote's status, expecting the country's parliament to take on that task.

On Wednesday, Libya's parliament said holding the elections on Friday as scheduled would be “impossible".

Election rules state that candidates should have 14 days to campaign before a vote.

Disagreements on the final list of candidates had been one of the main reasons for a postponement of a vote that would deliver Libya's first democratically-elected candidate after the 2011 Nato-backed uprising against Muammar Qaddafi, which led to the dictator's death.

Since then, the country has hurtled into a civil war, worsening political divisions that split the country into two major rival governments — one based in Tripoli and the other in the east and led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

Some of the 98 hopefuls who have registered for candidacy include Qaddafi's son Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, and Field Marshal Haftar, who faces allegations of war crimes in US courts.

Interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, accused by the UN of political bribery, former interior minister Fathi Bashagha and Aref Ali Nayed, a former ambassador to the UAE who leads the liberal Ihya Libya party, are also running.

Mr Haftar, Mr Bashaga and Mr Nayed met in Benghazi on Tuesday and issued a joint statement calling for reconciliation.

Updated: December 22, 2021, 9:38 AM