By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 3 May:
The Higher National Election Commission has decided to look again at the issue of Libyans abroad voting . . .[restrict]in the 19 June poll.
Khaled El Sahli, one of the HNEC commissioners, told Libya Herald today, Thursday, that the workload for the HNEC was such and the time so limited that not all Libyans abroad could be given a vote. However, “as a compromise”, they were looking into the possibility of allowing Libyans in certain countries to participate.
“Libyans abroad, especially students, have high expectations about the vote and will be very disappointed if they can’t,” he said, speaking after a press conference at the HNEC’s headquarters in Tripoli.
The idea is that Libyans in mainland Europe could vote at the Libyan embassy in Berlin, those in the UK and Ireland at the London embassy, and those in the US and Canada somewhere as yet undecided in North America, either Ottowa or Washington. They had thought of separate voting stations for the two countries but decided against it.
There would also be voting in some Arab countries. Asked if that meant Tunisia and Egypt, where there are significant communities of Libyans, he indicated that it would be further afield. The HNEC felt that those on Libya’s borders could make it home for the all-important poll.
If such a system is put in place, all that would be required to vote would be a Libyan passport, El Sahli said. Registration and the vote would be at one and the same time.
He was emphatic that the present registration being carried out by some Libyan embassies was invalid. “Embassies have no right to register anyone for the election,” he insisted. As a data base on Libyans in the country where the embassy was, he said, that was fine — “but not for elections”.
However, he cautioned that the whole issue was still undecided. Everything would depend on whether a system could be put in place in time. The commission was overloaded as it was, working “day and night” to ensure the poll took place on time.
He added that the commission also had to take into account the fact that, depending on where their home town was, Libyans abroad would be voting for candidates in different constituencies. That could create a logistical problem. Embassies would have to have the ballot papers for all 13 constituencies and then collate them and ensure they were sent back to the different constituency centres.
El Sahli said a definitive announcement on the “compromise” would be made in the next couple of days.
At the press conference, attended by a large number of foreign diplomats, the deputy interior minister, Omar Hussein Khadrawi, said that the police, security services and those revolutionaries who had joined the state forces were were fully involved in plans to protect registration centres and polling stations on the day of the vote. HNEC staff, he added, were working “24 hours a day” to ensure the election would go ahead on time.
He also said that the UN had been asked for assistance to ensure the vote went ahead “because the event concerns the world”.
Speaking afterwards, El Sahli acknowledged that there had been some security issues at a couple of registration centres in Tripoli on 1 May, but they had been dealt with.
Commenting on reports that in Marj, in eastern Libya, registration forms had only arrived today, he said there had been a problem delivering them. The Libya Air Force was to have flown the papers to Benghazi, Abraq and Tobruk for onward delivery to other places, but there had been a technical problem and the HNEC had had to hire a private plane to deliver them. All registration centres now had all the necessary documentation, he said. [/restrict]