– Registered voters reaches 2.1 million
By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 16 May:
By yesterday 15 May, Libya’s High National Election Commission revealed that over . . .[restrict]2.17 million Libyans had registered to vote in the 19 June elections for the 200 person Assembly. The number of candidates standing for this body had reached 2255, of which 2119 are registered as individuals whilst 136 are standing as part of political entities.
This assembly or congress will draft a constitution and prepare for General Elections in 2013.
On a rare example of an NTC member publicly explaining Libya’s new political and electoral process, NTC member Abdallah Fortia took time to explain in great detail his understanding of Libya’s political system to an audience of mainly females at a women’s empowerment event on 15 May.
‘There will be challenges facing the first National Congress or Assembly’, he remarked pulling no punches.
After the Congress is elected and formed ‘it will only have 60 days to draft a constitution. Tunisia has a year’, he pointed out. After that, it has only 30 days to publish it and receive feedback and comments on it and then another 30 days to take note of those feedbacks’.
‘It will then have to vote on this draft by a two-thirds majority. A two-thirds majority was chosen to ensure that no one region could have a majority on its own. This would ensure that those in the south and east of Libya had a voice in this constitution. This will probably give women a voice too’, he added.
‘The Congress will have to choose a Prime Minister who would have to choose a government to present to Congress to approve. Congress will run Libya for one year during which we will agree on a constitution and the type of political system we will have and the political parties that we will have. It will also have to prepare for elections’.
‘For those elections it has been decided that there will be 200 seats. There will be 100 seats for the West, 60 for the East and 40 for the South. Of these 200 seats, 120 seats will be contested by independents and the remaining 80 will be contested by political entities’.
Asked why they were referred to as political entities, he explained that there was no law in place for political parties for this election.
He felt that Libya was not politically ready, that it did not fully comprehend political parties and to prevent any one well organized and funded party from dominating the process.
Asked by the audience on why this system of sharing out the seats on the various regions was used, NTC member Fortia said that the decision was based on ‘a compromise between going purely on population or by geographical spread’.
He pointed out that ‘both the constitutional committee and the new government will be chosen from outside the members of the Congress’. He also highlighted the fact that ‘members of the NTC and the Transitional Government will be asked not to participate in this political process’.
It was noteworthy that his exact words were ‘will be asked not to participate’, as opposed to ‘they are not permitted by law’ to participate. Whether this was an error of choice of words or a reflection of the exact status of the situation was not clear.
‘The ‘Committee of 60’ that will draft the constitution will have 20 from the West, 20 from the East and 20 from the South. The 60 must approve the constitution by two-thirds plus 1 person’, he concluded.
Voter registration closes on 21 May and candidate registration has now been extended by another two days until 17 May. [/restrict]