Everything you have to know about Libya elections. Interview with Dr. Emad A. Assayh, HNEC chairman

By Vanessa Tomassini.

Everyone is asking: will the Libyans be able to go to the vote on December 24th? Many unknowns continue to surround the North African country, and as often happens in great suffering, it is hard to believe that we are close to a solution. In this interview, Dr. Emad Al Sayah, Chairman of the Libya High National Electoral Commission (HNEC), explains everything there is to know about the upcoming Libyan elections.

First of all, Dr. Emad Al Sayah thank you for accepting this interview. Do you think Libyan people will go to vote on December 24 or do you expect some delays?

“We are still working on 24 December to be the day that Libyans proceed towards ballot boxes and according to our implementation plan, there will be no delay.” 

Why hasn’t HNEC published the elections calendar yet?

“We already have a draft for the implementation plan that focuses on 24 December to be the polling day and to continue completing all the steps of the electoral process. Once our partners (High Council of Judiciary and Ministry of Health) are ready, we will announce the timeline and will start the actual implementation process.” 

What will be the voting mechanism for the parliamentary and presidential elections? 

“Concerning the Presidential Elections, the country will be one constituency in which all the candidates compete with each other. The winner is the one obtains (50%+1) during the 1st round. In case no candidate has obtained the above-mentioned percentage, there will be a second round, the two candidates who would obtain the highest number of votes will compete with each other, then, the candidate who obtains the highest number of votes shall win.  With regards to the Parliamentary Elections, the country will be divided into (75) constituencies, the individual system will be the (majority), where the candidate who obtains the highest number of votes in his/her constituency shall win.”

What do you think of the electoral law issued by Aguila Salah and the House of Representatives (HoR)?

“The House of Representatives is the Legislative Authority, based the Constitutional Declaration, issued on August 3rd, 2011. The Laws issued by HoR are applicable, technical wise; although, there were few technical problems that we have requested for amendments. However, the Parliament has responded to them recently.”

What do you think of the objections presented by Khaled Al Meshri and the High Council of State (HCS)?

 “It is normal to have opponents within the political process which is a healthy democratic phenomenon. Whoever objects it, can go to the judiciary, for addressing the issues among politicians. The judiciary is the only guarantee that the democratic process will proceed in a civilized manner away from negative phenomena.”

How is your relation with Aguila Salah? And with Khaled Al-Meshri?

“My professional relation with all the political actors is good to a certain extent. We try to avoid personal disputes as much as possible, so that it does not affect or harm the transparency and credibility of our work or lose the trust of the peoples in us.”

Beyond the statements, do you believe that the Government of National Unity is doing everything necessary for the elections to be held in time on December 24?

“Due to the tough political conflict between all actors, the government’s position towards the electoral process is ambiguous. However, we do consider it hindering the implement of our tasks and responsibilities towards 24 December”.

What are the missing steps for opening nominations for the presidential position?

“What is missing is the readiness of the High Judicial Council regarding the establishment of the challenges committees, and the Ministry of Health regarding the establishment of the medical committees to check the health fitness of the candidates. However, during this week, we are expecting a development towards the establishment of these committees”.

We are seeing tensions and security incidents in the western region; do you believe these are related to the approaching elections?  do you think there could be an escalation? 

“The security tension is not a new phenomenon, it always occurs among armed groups, due to absence of security coordination among the Government and its various security institutions, which is strictly limited and in certain areas.”

When you received the presidential electoral law from the HoR did you receive any pressure?  And what have been the reactions of armed groups?

“We are the technical body. Our mission is limited to implement the electoral process that the Legislative Authority approves. There are a lot of pressures on us from different actors; however, what we care about the most is the pressure imposed by the Libyan people and their insistence on implementing the elections on time. Whether the election succeeded or not, there are concerns with regards to some armed groups, due to election results and how will the political situation be after elections”.

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