Libya Has Not Resolved the General Elections Issue and is Preparing for Municipal Elections 

The head of the Libyan High National Elections Commission announced that the municipal election process will take place in the first quarter of the coming year, following the issuance of the executive regulations related to it.

The head of the Libyan High National Elections Commission, Emad Al-Sayeh, announced during the opening of the new headquarters of the Electoral Administration Office in Sirte on Saturday the launch of municipal electoral processes in the first quarter of the coming year. This represents a breakthrough to end the division in the country.

Observers believe that the municipal elections are a direct and decisive test of the official authorities’ ability to organize the general elections, the fate of which remains uncertain due to the political division and the unresolved points of contention by the 6+6 Committee, despite announcing agreement on the final formula for the election laws in the Moroccan city of Bouznika. Some provisions of these laws sparked controversy and calls for amendments, but the committee affirmed that “its laws are effective and final.”

Emad Al-Sayeh was quoted by the “Africa News Gate” website as saying that the Commission’s Council is in the process of issuing the executive regulations for the election of municipal councils. He pointed out that a series of reforms related to the election of local councils will contribute to further successes in this process, and these elections will take place in the first quarter of the year 2024.

Al-Sayeh presented in his speech the developments in the work of the Commission, including the amended law concerning the Commission, which transfers the authority to manage and conduct the election of municipal councils from the Central Committee for Local Elections to the Libyan High National Elections Commission.

The Libyan House of Representatives issued a legal amendment on July 18th of last year, regarding the transfer of the authority to conduct elections for municipal councils from the Central Committee for Local Elections to the Libyan High National Elections Commission.

Al-Sayeh added that since the establishment of the Commission in 2012, its council has sought to establish advanced foundational rules throughout the country to enhance the success of the electoral process. The Commission has successfully built 9 new headquarters that will be gradually inaugurated during these days, to maintain continuous communication with the main operations room of the Commission. These channels will help us monitor the details and address any difficulties that voters, candidates, or anyone participating in the electoral process may face.

Al-Sayeh also mentioned that the new headquarters of the Electoral Administration Office in Sirte is the first in a series of headquarters that will be added to the Commission’s achievements in terms of strengthening its infrastructure, human resources, and technology, to achieve the highest level of readiness in managing the electoral operations.

On the other hand, the dean of Sirte municipality, Mukhtar Al-Maadan, referred to the conditions that the city went through. Nevertheless, this did not prevent them from making every effort to establish a successful environment for holding elections with local will. He called for a collaboration of efforts politically, administratively, socially, and security-wise in order to ensure the success of the elections and guarantee security, peace, and stability for all Libyans.

The Electoral Administration Office in Sirte covers the geographical range from Abu Qurayn in the west to Ras Lanuf in the east, and from Sirte in the north to Al-Fuqaha in the south. The upcoming municipal elections will be the first voting process supervised by the High National Elections Commission, after two committees in the east and west of the country were responsible for organizing them, due to the conflict between two governments. The first is the outgoing National Unity Government led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, while the second is located in Sirte and Benghazi, appointed by the Parliament and supported by the commander of the Libyan National Army, Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The Libyan municipal council elections took place in January of the previous year in cities in the east and west. These elections showed the extent of political and institutional division in the country. The municipalities in the east refused to elect their councils under the management of the committee based in Tripoli after a parallel central committee was formed in Benghazi, working with different electoral laws than those adopted by its counterpart in the capital.

These elections, which lasted for several months, were the first voting process at all levels in the country since 2014, the year of the last parliamentary and municipal elections. During the years 2019 and 2020, most municipalities were re-elected in the second round. According to the law, the term of non-renewable municipal councils expires within 4 years.

Although the political class is not very interested in municipal elections, as they know that municipalities primarily focus on services, and thus their influence on decision-making is limited, conducting them under the supervision of the Elections Commission will end the conflict between two central committees that work with conflicting laws.

This conflict between the two committees has frustrated Libyans. Despite many of them participating in the voting, they still felt disappointed. The municipal elections and the chaos that accompanied them indicated that the gap of division has widened and that unifying the executive body has become a fundamental requirement to pull the country out of its crisis.

Since the power struggle between the Tripoli and Sirte governments began, municipalities have been drawn into the conflict. The Dbeibeh government sought to gain the support of municipalities to cut off its rival, which rushed to attract them.

At the end of March of the previous year, the Ministry of Local Government in the former government of Fathi Bashagha called on the mayors of municipalities throughout Libya not to deal with the Dbeibeh government and to comply with the decisions of his government.

Libya has been in a state of political division since 2014, divided between the camps in the western and eastern parts of the country. However, this situation has escalated after the House of Representatives appointed a parallel government and dismissed the Dbeibeh government, which refused to comply with the decision and insisted on holding power until general elections are held in the country.

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