Ahmed Elumami and Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 2 February 2014:
Voter registration for the municipal council elections in Benghazi has . . .[restrict]been extended by a fortnight, until 13 February, because of low take-up. As of yesterday, just under 30,000 Benghazi residents had registered. The local subcommittee of the Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections (CCMCE) has been looking to at least 130,000 people registering.
According to Idris Al-Gadhi, a member of the Benghazi subcommittee, one of the main reasons for the low figure was that, with the municipal elections coinciding with those of the 60-Member Constitutional Committee, many would-be voters had mistakenly thought their registration for the latter would cover the municipal poll as well.
Registration for candidates is also being extended until 13 February. However, Ghadi said that 18 had already been cleared to stand by the Public Officials Standards Commission (POSC) and 30 others were still being vetted.
The Libya Herald has also learned that although the registration is being extended, there will be no campaigning i in Benghazi until three or four days after the Constitutional Committee elections, which take place on 20 February, in order not to confuse voters.
The CCMCE says it is confident that sufficient numbers of Benghazi residents will register to vote for the municipal poll.
The contest is seen as the most important in the second tranche of municipal elections, currently being organised. There are going to be 22 of them. The first tranche, in December, saw contests in 15 of the new municipalities. Work on around 40 others, including in Tripoli, Zawia, Misrata and Sebha, is expected to begin by the end of the month, once some financial issues have been dealt with.
“We’re very proud to have reached this stage,” said Otman Gajiji, chairman of CCMCE. Despite all the obstacles, including a lack of funding, the main committee and subcommittees had worked tirelessly to achieve a major success. With so many problems facing the country, here was something all Libyans could celebrate, he said. The process might be slow – of the 15 contests so far, two had been completed (Beida and Shahat) and the final composition of the new councils for two others was about to be announced (Zultan and Hawamid), Gajiji said. But that was because of the rigorous vetting process. The results for the remaining 11 contests held in December were still awaited from the POSC, he explained.
He was confident, however, that the polls in about 80 of the 90 new municipalities would have taken place by the end of April. [/restrict]