Tripoli, 6 May:
Libyans resident in certain foreign countries will be able to vote in the elections after all. The about-turn follows . . .[restrict]strong pressure from Libyans abroad themselves, Libyan embassies, the UN mission in Libya and the International Organisation for Migration.
Last month, Nuri Elabbar, who now heads the High National Election Commission (HNEC) told Libya Herald that Libyans abroad were unlikely to be able to vote because of time limitations. In a statement today, however, the HNEC said that the registration process and voting would go ahead at embassies in the UK, Germany, the US, Canada, Jordan and the UAE.
The move, which first surfaced on Thursday, was described at the time as a “compromise” by Khaled El-Sahli, one of the HNEC commissioners.
How many Libyans will actually be able to vote and register remains to be seen. The embassy in Berlin will cover all Libyans in Europe apart from those in the UK and Ireland who will be able to register and vote in London. However, the long distances involved may effectively deter many from participating, possibly the vast majority in Europe — other than the very committed, those living nearby or those with time and money and money to spend. The same goes for those in the US and Canada. Not all Libyans in the two countries live near Washington or Ottawa.
There are significant numbers of Libyans in Amman undergoing medical treatment who will now be able to vote. However, the same does not apply to the many Libyans in Tunisia, also undergoing treatment, and those in Egypt. The HNEC says they are expected to vote in Libya on the basis that it is not too far.
Some see this as unrealistic. It would involve them in the expense of returning before 14 May to register and then again being in Libya to vote on 19 June. The disruption and costs may prove too much for many.
Whether this is the end of the matter is uncertain. The commission made it clear in its statement today that it may look again at the 8 May deadline for candidate registration on the ground that there had been numerous complaints from individuals and parties at the extremely limited timeframe. It is being said in Tripoli that if there can be flexibility there, there can be flexibility on the number of embassies involved in the vote.