The HNEC chooses a soft approach to go ahead with local elections

Despite manifold challenges, including the lack of a budget, the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) has pushed ahead with its plan to hold municipal elections and adopted a softer and more pragmatic approach.

The HNEC’s Director Emad al-Sayeh has opted for holding elections in 60 municipalities deemed to face the least challenges so as to ensure that at least some Libyans can get to the polls and that a momentum is created to not only finalise municipal elections, but also give the signal that Libya is ready to hold general elections.

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A closer look

Last year, Law No. (20)/2023 was adopted to transfer the authority to hold municipal council elections from the Central Committee for Municipal Council Elections to the HNEC so as to favour a central institution capable of overseeing various polls. In early January of this year, the HNEC had announced it wanted to begin the first phase of local elections, requiring citizens to register for such elections by linking their phone numbers to their national identity numbers — a new system that differs from the one used to register 2.8 million voters for general elections in 2021.

The voter registration system is done via SMS or at the Registration Request Acceptance Committees and it is based on residency so that only residents of the targeted municipalities will be able to vote. Voter cards for newly registered individuals will be distributed for those who do not have a valid voter card issued in 2021. Election results for group one municipalities are expected to be unveiled in the second half of August 2024, after which the second group of municipalities will be able to go ahead with their elections.

The initial objective was to hold local elections in 106 municipalities this year, but much delay has been recorded due to the fact that the Government of National Unity (GNU) has not disbursed the legal amount required by the HNEC to go ahead with its operations this year. Despite the continuation of these financial challenges, al-Sayeh seems to have wanted to make a push and announced on Sunday that registration of voters would go ahead over two weeks, ending on June 23. Importantly, the HNEC said that only 60 municipalities were concerned by the directive as the institution has decided to segment local elections to make them more manageable.

Looking ahead

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