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Libyan National Election Commission opens nominations

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, November 9th 2021 à 11:35 | Read 369 times

Imad al-Sayeh promises "free and fair" elections (photo: HNEC)
Imad al-Sayeh promises "free and fair" elections (photo: HNEC)
LIBYA. The Libyan National Electoral Commission (HNEC) announced on Sunday 7 November 2021 in Tripoli, the opening of candidacies for the presidential and parliamentary elections from Monday 8 November 2021 in the early afternoon. This declaration marks the real start of the electoral process in Libya.

Its chairman, Imad al-Sayeh, said that the deposits for the presidency would only be accepted until 22 November 2021 and only at the Commission's branches located in the three regional capitals, Tripoli (Tripolitania), Benghazi (Cyrenaica) and Sebha (Fezzan). Candidatures for the House of Representatives will be accepted in all offices of the National Electoral Commission throughout the country until 7 December 2021.

2.83 million voter cards (out of approximately 7 million inhabitants) - it was necessary to register until the end of August 2021 on the HNEC online platform to obtain one - will be available for distribution in 1,906 polling centres from Monday afternoon, 8 November 2021. This will last for a period of two weeks. Imad al-Sayeh calls on voters to "assume their responsibilities and comply with electoral rules."

A country still torn apart

The first presidential election organised in Libya since its independence is due to be held on 24 December 2021. The legislative elections have been delayed from 5 October 2021 to January 2022. The ball of contenders for the supreme office has many declared candidates (see box below), but it remains to be seen whether they will all go so far as to file their candidacy.

Municipal elections were held in 2019, 2020 and again in January 2021 in thirty-five municipalities (out of 116 registered).

After ten years of civil war, which began with the fall and assassination of Muammar Gaddafi, who was on the run in conditions that have not yet been fully clarified, Libya is struggling to unite again. In a country in chaos, the east and west of the country continue to be torn apart, despite a permanent ceasefire agreement in force since October 2020. The parliament in Tobruk (east) continues to go it alone and oppose the provisional government in Tripoli (west). On 9 September 2021, it even ratified, without a vote, an electoral law to grant the right to the military to run in elections (to favour its candidate Marshal Khalifa Haftar). On 21 September 2021, it passed a motion of no confidence in the government. Even the High State Council (HSC) called in September 2021 for the postponement of the presidential elections by at least one year.

This electoral theatre set up on quicksand is rocking all the more since 20,000 mercenaries (notably Russian), according to the UN, remain in the country, as well as soldiers of the Turkish army. Supporters of the former government based in Tripoli, they have prevented Khalifa Haftar from taking over the capital. Not to mention the exsanguinated economy facing two huge challenges inherited from the civil war and the absence of effective governance: water stress and the management of hydrocarbons.

However, the United Nations, which initiated these elections in November 2020, wants to believe that these polls will allow Libya to get out of this East-West division, of these structural problems and especially to pacify it.

Imad al-Sayeh assured that he would do "everything to ensure that these elections are free and fair. At the end of an international conference for the stability of Libya ( 21 October 2021 in Tripoli), representatives of foreign delegations and international institutions promised their help to the HNEC to organize transparent elections.

Read also our survey on Libya (in six parts) 

Many contenders for the post of President

Khalifa Haftar (77): Commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army since 2015, strongly opposed to the Islamists, the marshal failed to take control of Tripoli during the second Libyan civil war. The former strongman of the east of the country agreed to sign a ceasefire with Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, with the two adversaries allowing a democratic transition.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi (49): Second son of the former dictator, he played an active role in the 2011 civil war to the extent that the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity in his name. Arrested by the new regime, then detained by a militia, he was sentenced to death in absentia in July 2015 by the new authorities of his country. Released in July 2016 thanks to an amnesty from the Tobruk government, he has been very discreet since.

Abdel Hamid Dbeibah (61): current interim Prime Minister since March 2021, succeeding Fayez al-Sarraj, this engineer and wealthy businessman expedients current affairs after the vote in September 2021 of a motion of censure by the Tobruk Parliament. Belonging to the first circle of Muammar Gaddafi's trusted men, he has held several important positions and headed the Libyan Investment and Development Company (Lidco) and the Organisation for the Development of Administrative Centres (Odac). Founder in 2020 of the Libya of the Future party, he is close to Turkey, Russia and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ibrahim Omar Dabbachi (71): Former Permanent Ambassador of Libya to the United Nations (2009 to 2013) and then Permanent Representative of Libya to the United Nations (2013 to 2016) in New York, he chaired the Libyan mission to the UN to oppose the continued rule of Muammar Qaddafi. In March 2009, he served a term as President of the UN Security Council.

Aref Ali Nayed (59): Close to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, he is chairman of Reviving Libya and founded the Tripoli and Dubai-based think tank Kalam Research & Media (KRM). A theologian by training and a teacher, he founded his company, Agathon Systems Limited/Alada (building data centres, networks and banking infrastructure) in 1998. He introduced ATMs in Libya and was responsible for the national payment system for the Central Bank of Libya. He joined the Revolution in February 2011 and opposed the Islamists. He was Libya's ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2011 to 2016.

Fathi Bachagha (59): Former Minister of Interior (2018-2021) in the national unity government, this former fighter pilot turned businessman entered politics in 2014 with his election to the House of Representatives. He was the favourite to take up the post of interim Prime Minister before being edged out by Abdel Hamid Dbeibah.

Fathi ben Shatwan: Former minister of Muammar Gaddafi between 1987 and 2006 (Industry and Energy in particular), he left the government in 2007 to resume his career as an academic. He left the country during the revolution, denouncing the regime's ultra-violent repression and becoming a dissident

Hatem al-Kour (49 years old): Coming from a family of artists (father an actor, grandfather a musician), this comedian actor has been renowned in his country since the mid-90s and has a programme to "solve all the problems in Libya, economic, political and social (...) to help raise the standard of living in Libya.

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