By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 26 November 2013:
Elections for Libya’s new municipalities start on Saturday with polls in Beida, Bint Baya, Shahat and . . .[restrict]Tazerbu.
They will be the first of a rolling series of municipal contests. The following Saturday there will be elections in Awjila, Traghen, Wadi Itba and Zintan.
On 14 December, they will be held in Ghariyan and Al-Haraba and, a week later on Saturday, 21 December, in Ajilat, Hawamid, Kikla, Nisma and Zultan.
The contests are seen as something of a triumph for the Central Committee for Municipal Councils Elections (CCMCE) which has carried on working in the face of numerous obstacles and delays to ensure they happen.
Registrations have been slow and had to be extended. There has been a threatened boycott of all elections from the Amazigh because of anger over the number of seats reserved for them on the 60-member Constitutional Committee as well as an appeal to Congress by the head of the High National Election Commission, Nuri Elabbar, to postpone them because they would distract from the Constitutional Committee elections.
Additionally, there have been attempts by the Prime Minister to convince Congress that he be allowed to appoint the heads of the Municipal Councils, plus his decision to reduce the number of municipalities from 99 to 90 and redraw the boundaries of some of them.
“Everything is moving well,” said the chairman of CCMCE, Otman Gajiji. All election equipment is in place in the first four locations, he says: voters and candidates are registered, candidates have been campaigning, the counting officers and overseers have been trained, and everything is set according to international standards.
Campaigning will stop on Thursday, with Friday a quiet day. In Beida, he noted, there are 40 candidates – all men – standing for the five general seats, three women candidates for the one seat reserved for a female councillor, and six candidates for the seat reserved for war-wounded revolution veterans.
Polling will start at 8 am and end at 8 pm, Gajiji added. There will be a number of local and invited international observers in attendance.
“We expect a high turnout. People have indicated they want to vote despite the security situation.”
The count will take up to 48 hours. “The results could be by Sunday afternoon, or early Monday,” he said.
The first task of the new councillors will be to meet and choose a mayor. That election will also be supervised by the local CCMCE sub-committee. The municipal councils will then take over from the old local councils which will case to exist.
The only hiccup so far has been the decision to postpone the poll in Ghat which should also have voted on Saturday, because of delays in candidates’ approval by the Political Isolation Law Standards Authority.
Gajiji is confident that all will go according to plan. “We don’t have any problems”, he said, “and I don’t foresee any either”. [/restrict]