Tripoli, 9 June:
A member of the Higher National Election Commission has been quoted today as saying that the 19 June election . . .[restrict]for a constituent assembly will be postponed until July.
The report from AFP, which had been spoken to by the Commission member on condition of anonymity, said that the announcement is due to be made tomorrow (Sunday) and it is likely that 10 July will be named as the new date.
This bears out completely our report of six days ago in Libya Herald predicting the delay and the date.
The official told the news agency today that the main reason for the postponement was logistical, mainly to allow sufficient time for appeals from candidates who had been ruled ineligible to take part.
In our report of 3 June, we disclosed that another logistical reason was that the ballot papers would not be ready by 19 June. Because the HNEC had extended candidate registration by a week, it is only today that candidates will have been told if they will be permitted to stand. Given the likely appeals, there is clearly hardly any time for proper campaigning, let alone printing accurate ballot papers.
The commission had already recognised the problem but decided that it could not announce a postponement without giving a new date on which the vote would definitely take place. The sensitivity here is that there has been a growing public suspicion that the interim government and NTC are reluctant to cede power. The NTC will no longer exist once the new 200-member assembly holds its first session.
AFP quoted its main source as saying: “Several dates have been proposed, but most discussions are pointing to July 10″.
It went on to add that when approached for his comment, HNEC chairman Nuri Elabbar said only: “An announcement will be made tomorrow (Sunday) at a news conference”.
Another member of the commission said the postponement had been agreed in consultation with UN officials working with the commission who had “proposed a date during the first week in July.”
The commissioner added that if the elections were not ready by then, they could not be held until after Ramadan, which begins in late July.
Some 80 percent of eligible Libyan voters, around 2.7 million people have registered to vote.
The first members of a 21-strong team of EU election monitors arrived in Tripoli today with the rest of the party due to fly in by Monday. It is not yet clear whether they will extend their mission until the expected 10 July vote. [/restrict]