In less than 40 days, Libya is set to witness the first elections since the ouster of the late Moammar Gahdafi. But are the elections coming too early? Post-conflict elections should mark the pinnacle point in the recovery and reconstruction of Libya. Libyans and the international community look at the election on June 19 as a milestone toward peace and democracy. But some studies show history can paint a gloomy picture of elections held soon after bloody armed struggles, when political institutions may be weak or non-existent. Many believe elections soon after the armed conflict that ended Moammar Gadhafi’s regime would foster the promise of peace and democracy. It would show a democratic transition and effective recontruction, which in turn would assure the international community about the stability of Libya. Elections would also help post-conflict Libya attract much needed foreign assistance and investment to help rebuild the country.
Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) decided on Sunday to keep the interim government in power in the run up to a June election, its leader said, quashing rumors of a reshuffle that has sowed uncertainty in the strife-torn state. The NTC is the unelected body internationally recognized as the ultimate power in the country after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi last year.
Violence in Libya risks escalating and could even derail elections if the interim government fails to impose its authority by disarming militias and strengthening the judiciary, analysts say. In the southern desert cities of Sabha and Kufra, clashes pitting Arabs against non-Arab tribesmen have cost more than 250 lives since February, according to an AFP tally based on official estimates. Inter-communal fighting in Libya’s west last week left at least 20 people dead and hundreds wounded before the government secured a ceasefire with the help of the nascent army and revolutionary brigades. The unrest coupled with calls for autonomy in the east has raised concerns over the ruling National Transitional Council’s grip on power in the country where decades of dictatorship left an institutional void.
The head of Libya’s interim government and revolutionary figure, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, said on Wednesday he would stand down if the country’s upcoming elections run off course. In the wake of fresh unrest between former Libyan rebels, Jalil said in an interview with Al Arabiya that “strong force will be used against those who threaten the security of Libyans. I plan to resign if the elections fail,” the National Transitional Council chief added, revealing that the vote for a constituent assembly has been scheduled for June 19. The remarks came at the close of a third day of clashes near the border of Tunisia which has claimed at least 26 lives, according to Al Arabiya. “We will not allow Libyan blood to continue to be spilled,” Jalil said.
Members of the newly-established Libyan election commission have been sworn in during a ceremony in the capital Tripoli. Senior Libyan officials, including the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, attended the event on Sunday. The commission will help put in place a process for an election in June, which is expected to determine the members of Libya’s new National Assembly. The elections are to mark the country’s first free polls.
Libyans with ties to ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi will be banned from running in elections under a bill drafted by the country’s new rulers. Academics who wrote about Gaddafi’s “Green Book,” containing his musings on politics, economics and everyday life, will also be barred from running under the draft law, published online by the National Transitional Council (NTC) on Sunday night.
“This is a very important law because people are complaining that some of Gaddafi’s figures still occupy high positions,” said Abeir Imnena, a university professor among a number of legal experts, judges and lawyers involved in drafting the bill. “This is to tell people that there’s no room for them [Gaddafi supporters].”
Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has set out steps leading to democratic elections monitored by the United Nations within 18 months.
The plan goes into effect with a “declaration of liberation” which the NTC has not defined precisely, though NTC chairman Abdel Mustafa Jalil told reporters the conditions for such a declaration included the capture or death of Muammar Gaddafi.
The NTC’s Constitution Declaration for governing during the transitional period sets out the main guidelines for the way the country is to be overseen as it emerges from six months of war.
The National Transitional Council promised to hold elections next April to choose a permanent government for the nation ruled by Muammar Gaddafi for 42 years.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the TNC chairman made the promise as world leaders prepared to meet to discuss Libya’s future after Gaddafi. “In eight months we will hold legislative and presidential elections,” Mr Jalil said.