According to the media reports, the chairman of Libya’s election commission has announced that the country will hold a referendum on a new constitution by the end of February. However, it’s just half-truth. Several media houses are not talking about the fact that highlights the major concerns of the electoral commission.
The commission said that in order to organize voting for a new constitution in February, there is a need of funds to boost its “zero” budget. Considering that, the electoral commission of Libya has asked the government for funds of $28.7 million.
The referendum on the constitutional framework is being held in an attempt to devise a way out of the disagreements that emerged after the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The United Nations and Western powers are in anticipation that after the referendum, Libya will hold national election by June, next year.
The UN was earlier supporting a French plan, which initially asked for a presidential and parliamentary vote on December 10, 2018. However, the conflict in the capital Tripoli between competing groups that extended for weeks, as well as the two rival parliaments, made it impossible to conduct the vote on the proposed date.
Libya has two governments— the Tripoli government and a rival version in the east allied to Commander Khalifa Haftar.
On Thursday, the chairman of the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), Emad al-Sayah took a small initiative towards restoring political stability in the country. However, he said that the group needs funding to plan for the constitutional vote by February 2019.
“The budget of the commission is zero, it’s red,” Emad al-Sayah said. “We have financial commitments of half a million (dinars).”
Sayah also informed that the electoral commission had also asked the Tripoli-based government to get 40 million dinars(28.67 million dollars) to start the process for a constitutional vote.
The chairman said that if a budget had been allocated to import ballot materials and technical equipment, it would be possible to hold a constitutional referendum in time.
Describing a February date as an estimate, he said, “HNEC will announce the process at the end of January and the process will be finished at the end of February.”
Libya has also drawn up a draft constitution to put to a referendum, though there was no clarity on how that will work.
Besides, the UN is also hoping to organize a nation conference for the Libyans in the beginning of next year. The aim behind is to overcome divisions and decide what type of elections the country wants– presidential or parliamentary.
According to the chairman, Emad al-Sayah, the date for the constitutional vote is required to be agreed upon with the House of Representatives (HOR), which is an internationally recognized parliament.
In addition to the funding, Emad al-Sayah also called for better security arrangements during the referendum.
Libya has been striving to achieve a well-established government since 2011, after the former Prime Minister Muammar Al Gaddafi was overthrown. The chaos has been further intensified under the rule of two conflicting governments.
As the Libya election commission is taking a small initiative, will it be able to achieve the long awaited political stability and unity in the country?