By Umar Khan
Tripoli April 11
The elections for Tripoli Local Council (TLC) may be delayed . . .[restrict]because of the short timetable and concerns among political activists and elements from civil society about the process.
It was initially announced by the chairman of the TLC Executive Committee, Adnan Gherwi, that elections would be held before or on May 10. It is now being reported that it is highly unlikely that the deadline will be kept as the voter registration, one of the most important parts of the process has not yet started.
The chairman of the TLC electoral committee, Salah Adden Tabagh, is still optimistic about keeping the deadline though he said “the date of the elections is not a word from the Quran. It can be changed. The priority is to have free and fair elections as per the expectations of the people. It is important not to let them down.” He also added that the ordinary people were aware of the fact that there was no local elections law in Libya.
Salah said that the election by-law had been passed by the seven-member committee but they had not been unanimous. Some of the members did not agree with the electoral system being used but the by-law was passed as the majority was in favor of it. He said “the law was passed yesterday and was published on the same day for the feedback from the public. We will review it according to the feedback we receive and then we will move on to the next phase of voter registration.”
According to Salah, there was much criticism on the legitimacy of the committee and its authority. “There were some issues as some people were questioning the legitimacy of the committee, especially in a conference recently held in the Rixos hotel. My answer to all these speculation is simple; the decision 14/2012 says that the electoral process should be carried out without any interference and we are making sure of that. As for the legitimacy, we are following the example of Misrata and Benghazi. The electoral committees for both the cities were authorized by their respective local councils to make decisions.”
“In our meeting with the chairman of TLC on March 27, we asked him to amend the decision 14/2012 authorising us to make regulations; he agreed.” He continued: “There are some people who want to complicate things for no reason. It is important to realise that putting obstacles to slow down the process will help nobody and will only delay elections.”
The electoral committee has agreed to co-opt some members from civil society and NGOs. There were concerns among political groups over the absence of civil society representatives on the electoral committee, he said. Following talks, the committee agreed to include such representatives from the NGOs and civil society bodies. Asked how such new members would be selected, Salah said that “NGOs will nominate their candidates, the list will then be forwarded to the TLC for the selection.”
Salah seems confident that the whole process to select and include the new members to the electoral committee and the review of the election by-law according to the feedback will be completed within ten days. “I am hopeful that we can start the voter registration within ten days. We will write a letter to the TLC chairman tomorrow to inform him about the decision of the committee to include members from the NGOs and civil society.”
Salah was confident that the elections could take place without any security risk as most of the revolutionaries want the political process to go ahead. He said that he had received assurances from the main armed brigade inside Tripoli. “They assured me of their full support in maintaining security and stability on the day of the elections,” he said. “They said they’ll make sure that no regrettable incident takes place. They will work with the Ministry of Interior.”
The electoral committee was to receive the logistical support from the TLC but according to Salah, despite reminders, it has so far failed to do provide it. “I’m working out of my personal office, using this for committee meetings as TLC has not yet arranged the office for the committee. We sent them a letter on March 31, after our meeting on March 27, but so far there has been no response.”
According to Salah he also requested the Media Support Organisation to help spread information about the upcoming elections but they had not answered. “We sent a letter to the chairman of the Media Support Organization on March 31 to support us but so far they haven’t responded.”
The lack of support did not end here as the initial budget approved by the TLC a few weeks ago has not yet been made available to the committee. It is one of the few problems Salah and his committee are facing. “They accepted the budget immediately but there has been no progress after that.”
When asked about the arrangements for the upcoming elections, he said that “we have two options regarding the arrangement of the ballot boxes and other voting material. We can either manage with the National Committee or we can follow Benghazi and ask the EU commission for assistance. Benghazi has already contacted them and they are willing to help. We will decide very soon.”
Umar Khan can be found at twitter.com/umarnkhan