by Sami Zaptia
Tripoli, 1 May:
Days later… still no official reasons have been given for the sudden dismissal of the top tier . . .[restrict]of the election commission. However, it is generally assumed that a danger of the June General Constitutional Elections being delayed as a result of the commission’s slow progress – is the motive behind the sacking.
The elections and their possible delay is the most prominent topic of the hour in Libya as major political maneuvers behind the scenes and in full public view are taking place.
Political friction between the National Transitional Council (NTC), Libya’s legislature, and the Transitional Government, the executive, has come to the fore over the last few days as both sides are keen to place the blame for the possible postponement of the elections on the other.
This political power play over the possibility of an election delay has been a major cause for the persistent rumour that Prime Minister Al-Kib could be replaced – despite repeated ‘official’ statements by the NTC to the contrary.
Briefing the media
The problem facing the NTC, and its head Mustafa Abdul Jalil in particular, is that quite evidently there is quite a large group within it that are keen to replace Al-Kib. They have been persistently briefing the media against Al-Kib – publicly and behind the scenes. And if we are to believe the briefings to the media by members of the NTC, the majority of them have put their names to a paper asking for his removal. If this were true, and the NTC is truly a democratic body, it is even more perplexing as to why Al-Kib is still in office?
Critics of the NTC see these maneuverings to remove Al-Kib or his government as no more than scape-goating and see the weakness of the Transitional Government and Al-Kib as no more than a reflection of the weakness of the NTC itself. They feel that rather than attempting to shift the blame on the weak executive, a weakness the NTC has itself enshrined in the Transitional Government, the NTC should spend more time looking at themselves.
The performance of the NTC has not exactly been earning it plaudits. They have just – and I mean just – about succeeded in holding all of Libya together. Kufra, Sabha, Zuara, Jmail, Ragdaline come to mind.
To postpone or not to postpone – that is the question
The question for Libya is; is it better to have imperfect elections but on time, or to have near perfect elections (if such a thing is possible) but later on in the year – most probably after the holy month of Ramadan?
Good reasons to postpone?
The problem is; if you postpone elections once, you can postpone them again and again. And if the reason of ‘not being ready’ is a bona fide reason for postponing them once, what is to stop them being postponed again?
Enemies of the elections
Equally, the authorities do not want to post the idea that if the environment is not ready for elections, they would readily postpone them. This could play into the hands of the enemies of the elections. These enemies could start or continue to create scenarios that would lead to the postponement of the elections – maybe indefinitely!
The suspense and uncertainty of it all
If the principle of postponement is accepted, then If you can postpone the elections for a few months, you can easily postpone them until early next year and beyond. This would, in my opinion be the greater of the two evils – of imperfect elections in June 2012 or better organized elections sometime in the future.
The country is just about holding itself together with a transitional government and a transitional NTC – both unelected, un-mandated benign dictatorships. They both refuse or cannot take major, bold, brave decisions to solve strategic issues – postponing everything until after the elections.
Who set the election date?
The present authorities knew that these elections would be coming since they announced the Transitional Constitution back in March 2011. It is written in that document. It was the NTC who drafted the Transitional Constitution – so they knew when these elections were due. So any delay should be blamed squarely at the NTC‘s door.
Solving the issue of identity
It is no use the NTC turning round now and trying to blame either the government or the Election Commission. The NTC was late in creating the Election Commission. The NTC knew there were major challenges with the issue of establishing the true identity of Libya’s population. They faced the issue of identity fraud with the payments for the thuwar and the payments announced on the first anniversary of the 17th February Revolution for all Libyans in general
Libya needs the elections to move forward
I know that these are limited elections meant to create a body of 200 elected representatives to draft the constitution and set the stage for the next elections. Libya cannot wait any longer. The luster of the Revolution is beginning to fade. People are getting weary and impatient. They are tired of waiting in limbo and without any clear indication of when things will get better. Rightly or wrongly, we are all pinning our hopes on the elected body after the June elections.
The general public can no longer understand a government that announces a record budget, oil production at 1.5 million barrels per day and world crude prices of over US$100 per barrel – and yet is unable to improve things around them. Think health, education, bureaucracy, housing, transport. Think of all the thousands of construction and infrastructure projects that are suspended – Tripoli airport, the Third Ring Road, Tripoli’s tram system etc etc.
Libya needs the elections to move forward. It desperately needs an elected, mandated government which would have the legal and moral right and authority to take some major decisions – until the second lot of full elections in 2013.
Libya needs an effective, mandated government
The general public and the business community need an elected body. People want to improve their everyday lives and their standards of living. They need solutions in the short term for their everyday mundane problems. They need to feel that an elected, mandated body is round the corner to listen to its grievances and to be able to do something about them. [/restrict]