Elections Commission Chief to Asharq Al-Awsat: Libya Polls Hinge of Constitutional Referendum

Wednesday, 15 August, 2018 - 06:15
Cairo - Khaled Mahmoud

Chairman of Libya’s High National Elections Commission Dr. Emad Al-Sayah stressed on Wednesday that holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the country before the end of the year hinges on the constitutional referendum draft-law that is being prepared by parliament.

“The escalating political crisis and the mounting popular demands are exerting strong pressure to hold the elections that would resolve the dispute over legitimacy in Libya,” he added. The polls will also help unify state institutions.

There can be no solution to the political impasse without elections that would pave the way for a new political reality, he continued.

Asked if he truly believes that the elections would be held in December before the end of the year, he replied: “This depends on what parliament has to offer regarding electoral legislation. If it approves the referendum draft-law, then the presidential and parliamentary elections cannot be held because holding the referendum will take up the remainder of the year.”

He explained that if the Commission receives the referendum law this month, then the vote could be held within a period of no less that three months. Its results will be announced in late November.

The new constitution, if approved by the people, will grant the legislative authority three months to issue the necessary legislation to hold the general elections. The Commission would also have eight months to prepare for the elections, as stipulated in the new constitution, meaning they will be held in October 2019, Sayah went on to say.

“On the technical level, we do not support holding the presidential and parliamentary elections at the same time,” he revealed, citing different procedures that needed to be adopted for each poll.

On ensuring the security of the electoral process in wake of the militia presence in some cities, including the capital Tripoli, he told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The government, not the Commission, is responsible for securing the process.”

Securing the elections is one of the four conditions that needed to be provided for the Commission to complete its duties, he stressed.

Sayah added that it had taken several measures that take into account the possibility of the eruption of violence.

He noted that the Commission, which is based in Tripoli, had previously staged election amid the militia presence in the capital.

“These groups did not interfere at all in our work,” he remarked. “We did not feel threatened by them and they often go with whatever the politicians agree upon, especially in regards to the polls.”

Asked about obvious French-Italian differences over the elections, Sayah replied: “On the surface they appear to be disputes over the polls. The reality is that they are disputes over power and influence and what each country can reap, whether or not political stability is restored in Libya.”

Influential Libyan political players must prioritize national interests, shun disputes and agree on a new vision for the state, which is based on democracy, to ensure the success of the elections, Sayah stressed.

Asked about Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar’s demand to relocate the Commission headquarters from Libya, he responded: “We did not receive such a request.”

“We are open to all influential powers on the political scene and we communicate with them, both directly and indirectly,” he continued.

“We are prepared to sacrifice everything we own so that Libya and its sons could enjoy a bright future,” he stated.

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