Tripoli, 24 April:
Libyans living abroad are unlikely to able to vote in the June elections according to Nuri Elabbar, spokesman for . . .[restrict]the High National Election Commission which is organising the 19 June vote for the National Congress to devise a constitution.
He also confirmed that the commission is drawing up its own register of voters for the poll. Registers compiled for local council elections, such in Misrata and currently in Benghazi, will not be used.
Elabbar said that the decision on Libyan voters abroad was not completely finalized. “If we can do it, we will,” he said, but added that the mechanics and the timing were against it.
There was no database of Libyans abroad and no means to draw one up in time, he said. Many Libyans, because they were opponents of the former regime, had never registered with Libyan embassies, he explained. As a result, in many cases their children — now adults — did not have documented Libyan citizenship. They were Libyan, but had British, Canadian, American or some other passport. This all had to be dealt with but it was highly unlikely it could be done within the next week or so, he noted.
Nor were there any constituencies abroad for non-resident Libyans to vote in, he pointed out, unlike the case in the Tunisian constituent assembly elections last October. Libyans would be voting purely for candidates within the country.
Elabbar said the reason the commission decided to draw up its own separate national register was because the criteria for registration was slightly different. People who registered in Benghazi and Misrata had had to provide evidence they lived there, he said. There would be no requirement of residency for the HNEC’s register. There would be only one document needed , the Family Book.
He added that there were also concerns within the commission over the number of voters who had registered for local elections. (In Misrata, out of an estimated 156,000 potential voters, just over 100,000 people registered and of these there was a 57 percent turnout for the council elections there on 20 February. In Benghazi, out of an estimated 375,000 voters, some 200,000 have registered so far.)
Elabbar was nonetheless confident that larger numbers would register at their local voter registration centres for the national poll. There would be more than there had been for local elections. Based on figures from the Civil Registration Office, there were 3.4 million Libyans aged 18 and over who were entitled to vote, he said.
Registration is to start on 1 May and last two to three weeks, he said, but time was tight because the election had to take place on 19 June.
Once the registration was complete, voter lists would be published. People would have two days to legally challenge them. A definitive list would then be produced within five days. Anyone not on that list will not be able to vote, Elabbar said. As to candidates, once registered and approved, they would have two weeks to campaign. The commission anticipated around 3,000 candidates across the country, Elabbar said.
There are several thousand people working with the commission, set up under Law No. 3 on 18 January. Headed by Uthman Gajiji, it has 15 members of its executive committee. Additionally, in each of the 13 mega-constituencies into which the country is divided under Law No. 14 of 21 March, there is a local committee with five members. The central administration in Tripoli has 130 staff and each constituency has up to 60 staff apiece, Elabbar explained. There are some some 1,500 registration centres around the country, each with a supervisor and five staff.
He said that the location of the polling stations had not been decided as yet.