Campaigning for the local council elections in Misrata ended . . .[restrict]on Saturday. Voting will take place on Monday, 20 February, to elect 28 councillors to run the city. There are over 240 candidates, four of them women. All are standing as independents. There are no parties involved, because none formally exists in the city.
The number of councillors to be elected in each area depends on it size and population. Some will elect two councilors, others more.
According to officials, more than 100,000 voters have registered. That is two-thirds of the 156,000 estimated voters. “It is a very good figure,” said Dr Mohamed El Fortia, former director of Misrata hospital, who is involved in helping organize the elections.
So far the only places in Libya to have held local elections are Zuara, 103 kilometres west of Tripoli, and Tajoura, a Tripoli suburb. Elections will also soon be held in Benghazi following the resignation in January of its council leader the resignation of the head of the Benghazi local council, Saleh El-Ghazal.
The contest in Misrata will be the city’s first in over four decades and its streets have been full of posters exhorting the electorate to put into practice what so many of their fellow citizens died for in the months the city was besieged by Qaddafi’s forces — freedom and democracy.
“If you don’t vote, who will?” reads one.
The committee overseeing the election was set up last month. Headed by Mohammed Berween, a professor of politics at Texas A&M International University in the US, one of its major tasks, apart from registering the electors, was deciding who was eligible to stand.
Among the many refused was the current leader of Misrata council, Khalifa Abdallah al-Zwawi.
Misrata hopes the costly example it set in standing up to Qaddafi’s forces will be repeated with the elections and that other towns and cities will now be encouraged to follow its electoral lead.
“We need to give a case study not only to our brothers in Libya but to the rest of the globe that we can govern ourselves and that democracy can excel if you allow people to choose,” Berween is reported as saying. [/restrict]