Libya ready for polls despite wrangling: Elections chief

AFP , Friday 8 Oct 2021

Preparations are almost finished for polls in war-torn Libya, the head of the electoral commission says, despite wrangling over voting laws and warnings the outcome could be contested.

Imed al-Sayeh
Imed al-Sayeh, head of Libya s High National Election Commission (HNEC), pauses during an interview with AFP in Tripoli on October 5, 2021.

"We are 80 or 90 percent ready" for the presidential and parliamentary votes in December and January, Imed al-Sayeh, head of the country's High National Election Commission (HNEC), said in an interview with AFP.

"I think there will be very strong turnout for these elections, especially as there will be direct presidential polls for the first time since Libya's independence" in 1951, he said at his office in Tripoli.

The polls are part of a United Nations-backed peace process that has seen a year of relative peace following a ceasefire between eastern and western camps in the North African country.

But disputes over the legal and constitutional basis of the ballots and who is eligible to stand raised doubts over the process.

Analysts warned of a return to conflict if the outcome is contested.

The presidential and parliamentary votes were initially set for the same day -- December 24 -- but on Tuesday parliament announced that the legislative elections, the country's first since 2014, would be postponed until January.

The HNEC said in August that more than 2.8 million Libyans had registered for the polls, out of a population of around seven million.

Libya has been ripped apart by violence since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi, who had ruled the vast, oil-rich country with an iron fist since seizing power in a 1969 coup.

Last October's ceasefire between rival eastern and western governments, after UN-hosted talks, led to a transitional government taking office in March to usher the country towards elections at the end of this year.


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