Libya's postponed election may not be held for six months, electoral commission says

Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh said the electoral commission was technically capable of holding the vote on time

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Elections in Libya may not be held for six to eight months after being postponed in December 2021, the head of the country’s electoral commission said on Monday before a parliamentary session.

The chairman of the High National Elections Commission, Emad Al Sayeh, explained that some citizens may have reached the legal age of 18 while the vote was delayed, permitting them to register to vote in any coming poll. He said it would take the commission time to prepare for the elections to include new voters an counter the uphill challenges that led to the original postponement.

The initial poll scheduled for December 24 was postponed after the High National Elections Commission failed to publish the final list of candidates. Mr Al Sayeh said militias had threatened to stop the electoral process if a final list was announced.

Figures such as Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who controls the government in the east, and Saif Al Islam Qaddafi, son of ousted former dictator Muammar Qaddafi, were among those to officially register as candidates in the elections.

On Monday, Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh, also a presidential hopeful, said he was “shocked” with the commission's decision to postpone the election.

“The [commission] was prepared, technically, to hold the elections as scheduled … The [commission] also said it reported forgeries in some of the candidates’ applications,” he said.

These cases will be referred to the authorities to for investigation, Mr Saleh said.

He called for the formation of a new government after conceding that the mandate of the current interim administration, led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, has expired.

The speaker also added that a 30-member committee would be formed to submit a new constitution.

The UN special adviser for Libya, Stephanie Williams, called on the Libyan Parliament to focus its efforts on the elections rather than on forming a new government.

“What Libyans have clearly said is that they want to go to the ballot box and choose their government, a democratically government representing the entire Libya,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

A democratic presidential election would be the first in Libya since the 2011 Nato-led removal of Qaddafi before he was killed. The country subsequently spiralled into civil war and became plagued by armed militias, a fragmented government, endemic corruption and an escalating illegal migration crisis.

Updated: January 17, 2022, 4:23 PM