By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 8 March 2014:
Voter and candidate registration for four new municipal councils in the Tripoli area will . . .[restrict]begin next week, according to the chairman of the Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections (CCMCE), Otman Gajiji. The four municipalities are Central Tripoli, Suq Al-Juma, Abu Sleem and Hay Andalous. At present they are largely covered by Tripoli Local Council which will cease to exist once the results are declared and the new municipal councils start work.
No time has been set for the elections, but it is thought they will take place by mid-May.
The election process has already started in three other new Tripoli municipalities – Tajoura, Ain Zara and Swani – although voter registration in them has just been extended until Thursday, 13 March. It has also been extended in another 12 new municipalities: Al-Gharifa, Bir Al-Ashhab, Brak Ash-Shatti, Emsalata, Garabulli, Ghadames, Gardah Ash-Shatti, Idri Ash-Shatti, Nalut, Obari, West Zawia (one of five Zawia area municipalities) and Zuwara.
Meanwhile, according to Gajiji, voter and candidate registration in underway in a further 45 municipalities, among them Khoms, Zliten, Sebha, Tobruk and Benghazi. In the latter, so far 70 candidates and 50,000 voters have registered. The local Benghazi subcommittee of the CCMCE had been hoping to register 130,000 people but is now reported to accept that it will have to go for a lower figure. Benghazi Local Council, however, has been fully supportive of the municipal election process.
The municipal election process is also now getting underway in Tarhouna, where a local sub-committee has just been appointed, and at Sabratha and Misrata, where voter and candidate registration are to start shortly.
So far, although elections have been held for 15 of the new municipalities, in only four – Beida, Shahat, Awjila and Zultan – have final results been declared and mayors elected. This is said to be because of delays by the Public Officials Standards Commission (POSC) which stopped vetting municipal candidates in order to concentrate on those for last month’s Constitutional Assembly elections. Final results are still awaited in Gharyan, Tazerbu, Traghen,Wadi Atba and Zintan, among others.
One significant development is an end to the Amazigh boycott of the municipal election process. Nalut and Zuwara, where voter registration has been extended until Thursday are both Amazigh towns and had been subject to the boycott of all elections ordered by the Supreme Amazigh Council because of anger at having just two seats reserved for the community in the Constitutional Assembly.
As far as municipal elections as concerned, “the boycott is now over”, said Gajiji today.
Confirmation that Amazigh leaders have agreed to end it now that the Constitutional Assembly elections are over came from Ibrahim Makhlouf, head of Amazigh Supreme Council and from the leader of Zuwara Local Council Yousef Hasairi.
“The Amazigh Supreme Council, in line with our desire to move ahead to the next step in building democracy in Libya came to the decision that all the Amazigh towns should proceed with municipal elections,” Makhlouf told this newspaper today.
“Going ahead with the municipal elections is a wise decision from the Amazigh Supreme Council,” said Hasairi. “We must be a part of it.”
However, elections in Jadu and Yefren, two other prominent Amazigh towns, are still to be organised.
The completion of the Constitutional Assembly elections is one of the reasons why the municipal process has now speed up. Another is that half the LD 106-million funding voted by Congress for the elections has now been freed up with the appointment of a new financial comptroller for CCMCE. (The other LD 53 million is yet to be paid to CCMCE’s bank account). It has allowed staff salaries to be paid, electoral equipment to be bought, and advertising to take place.
“Things are moving much faster because the financial process is now working”, said Gajiji.
With input from Taziz Hasairi