Halfway through 2024, elections remain a long-shot for Libya

Despite the High National Elections Commission's (HNEC) preparations, a combination of financial hurdles, political infighting, and security concerns is casting a shadow over the electoral process.

In July 2023, the Libyan House of Representatives (HOR) enacted Law No. 20, transferring the authority to conduct municipal elections from the Central Committee for Local Elections to the HNEC. This move was seen as a significant step toward restoring local governance in a country where municipal authorities have held power since 2014 without electoral renewal. Since then, HNEC Chairman Emad Al-Sayeh has been at the forefront of a renewed electoral push in Libya. During a discussion session organised by Libya Desk in late February, Al-Sayeh outlined the measures taken by HNEC to hold elections across 97 municipalities.

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However, the reality on the ground paints a more complex picture. According to Al-Sayeh, the HNEC had requested 80 million Libyan dinars from the Government of National Unity (GNU) to conduct the municipal elections in the first quarter of 2024. At the time, Sayeh said that “although the Prime Minister of GNU did not object to funding the municipal elections process, nothing has been done.” This has forced the HNEC to repeatedly postpone the start of the voter registration process, explaining that the registration process for municipal elections is different from the one used for national elections — for which over 2.8 million voters registered in 2021 — because municipal elections require proof of residency at the local level. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the GNU’s procrastination in responding to the HNEC’s request for election funding despite the availability of legal and procedural conditions suggests that the Tripoli government does not want these elections to take place.

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