By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 20 November:
Greater clarity has emerged with regards to a . . .[restrict]proposal by the National Congress to halt all local council elections in Libya.
Considerable confusion has surrounded the decision, which Congressmen said was made several weeks ago but never announced. On Sunday, Congressmen also told the Libya Herald that local council elections were to be halted until after the ratification of the permanent constitution.
It now transpires, however, that the elections will only be halted until the implementation of the Local Administration law, first passed by the National Transitional Council on 26 July, but then put on hold by the NTC and the government at the start of August.
According to Congressman Mohammed Toumi, who is also spokesman for the National Front party previously led by Mohamed Magarief, Congress is still finalising the exact details of the election ban.
“It is clear that the current local councils are temporary ones. We have a local administration law, and it should implemented and everything done in a systematic way. We are still finalising the details but it will make more sense to elect local councils that are based on the law prepared by the ministry and are the same throughout the country.”
Under this provision, the Tripoli Local Council elections, which are scheduled for 23 December, would be affected, although the council’s electoral committee insists that the elections will take place as planned.
The council has said, however, that the lack of clarity from the Congress over the implementation of local administration law and the elections of the local councils is not only confusing the people but is also costing effort and money.
Sources inside the Ministry of Local Governance have said that they have been asked to speed up the procedures to start the implementation of the law. “We are told to get the things in order so that we can start as soon as the final decision is made by the National Congress”, said one official. “It should not take more than four months to reach the elections based on the local administration law provided the work is not stopped.”
However, the deputy head of the electoral committee for Tripoli local council elections, Umran Marini, says the people want elections no matter what. “We are working to hold elections on 23 December. We did hear rumours about the cancellation of the local elections but we cannot stop until we see the GNC decision ourselves. On Monday we invited the candidates and different civil society organisations for a meeting and they all agreed to have the elections on time.”
Umran says there were three reasons that prompted the five weeks delay in the local council elections, “firstly the material for the elections will arrive on 25 November, it is being arranged with support from the European Union. Secondly we had monetary restrictions as we only received 0.8 million dinars since we started working whereas we wanted a budget of 7 million. Thirdly, we wanted to give more time to the candidates to connect with the people and explain their programme.”
After the reports about a possible ban on the upcoming Tripoli local council elections, candidates are also confused and blaming the current council for the delay.
Khalid Aubashi, standing from the downtown told the Libya Herald that he suspects hidden hand in all this. “They are delaying the elections for the third time now and I’m sure there is a hidden hand behind this that doesn’t want to see the country move forward.” [/restrict]