By Sami Zaptia.
London, 16 January 2021:
The Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections (CCMCE) announced the rerun of local elections amid unconfirmed claims of serious fraud and interference by armed groups.
Today, Sabrata and Tajura hold local elections.
In its announcement on Thursday, all the CCMCE said was that there would be a re-election in two polling stations in Swani ‘‘because the electoral process does not match the correct procedures. The repetition will take place on Saturday, January 23, 2021’’
However, according to a former CCMCE official, militiamen forced their way into polling stations in Swani and stuffed extra ballots into the boxes.
In Hay Andalus, militiamen ordered elections staff to leave three polling stations during the day, and to leave the ballot boxes behind. Later the staff were allowed to return.
There have been no complaints, however, from UNSMIL, the CCMCE or from any Libyan media outlet. The only comment from UNSMIL was to welcome the elections when the vote initially got underway on 7 January.
Fear of intimidation
According to the former CCMCE official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the reason why nothing has been said is because staff at the stations are afraid of speaking out.
Implications for other elections?
This could have serious implications for other local elections. The former CCMCE official expressed concern that because there has been no reaction, militias elsewhere may copy what happened.
He noted that elections are due in other areas, including Central Tripoli, and that other militiamen may now be encouraged to stuff ballot boxes there too. Moreover, It could also encourage fraud in the planned national elections of 24 December 2021.
These alleged reports of election interference have all taken place in regions ostensibly under the nominal control of the internationally recognized Libyan government in Tripoli. What are the implication for national elections in eastern Libya under the control of pro Khalifa Hafter forces?