Registration for Libya’s municipal elections will start this month according to the chairman of the Central Committee for Municipal Councils Elections (CCMCE), possibly within a couple of weeks
“We’ve almost completed all preparations for the elections”, said Otman Gajiji, appointed to the job on 11 April.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work with the Civil Registry office to establish where voters are resident and thus where they can vote”, he told the Libya Herald. To be able to register, voters have to be already registered with the Civil Registry.
Voter registration is all being computerised. Registration will be done by SMS. People will be able to text their NID number to the CCMCE and will then be automatically registered as voters in their place of residence as stated on their NID (National Identity card).
“You’ll send your NID number and registration center number that’s it. You’re registered,” Gajiji said,
“We’ve also liaised with UNSMIL and the EU for support and voting equipment” – (voting boxes, booths, inks and the like) – he added.
The elections themselves will take place after voter registration. “It won’t be a one-day event”, explains Gajiji, They will be staggered over a period of time.
Under Government Regulation No. 130, towns with less than 250,000 inhabitants will have seven councillors. Of these, five will be elected as individuals; the two others will be a woman and a revolutionary who fought and was wounded during the Revolution. The intention is to ensure that at least one woman and one revolutionary are on municipal councils although more could be elected as individuals. The wounded revolutionary candidates have to be validated by the Ministry for the Welfare of Injured Revolutionaries.
Municipalities with over 250,000 inhabitants will have seven individual councillors, plus a woman and a wounded revolutionary.
There will be between 90 and 100 municipalities throughout the country. A municipality is not just a physical town; it extends to the surrounding local countryside. The boundaries of the municipalities are reported to have been decided by the government but they have not as yet been announced.
Tripoli will not be a single municipality. There will be one for Central Tripoli with separate councils for the suburbs – probably seven in all.
Candidates for election will not be able stand on a party ticket, Gajiji explained. They will have to stand as individuals, and winners will be chosen on a first-past-the-post system. They will also have to be registered as resident within the municipality in which they are standing.
Once nominated, members of the public can raise objections to candidates, although last week, Congress passed an amendment to the Local Government Law, No 59/2012, radically reducing the time in which to object. Without it, clearing candidates to stand could have taken months.
Candidates will also have to be vetted by the new commission established under the Political Isolation Law. That could be mean delays. Assuming that there is an average of 25 candidates standing in each of the roughly 100 elections, it means that the new commission will have to investigate around 2,500 names in roughly four weeks. During the Congressional elections last year, the Integrity Commission had the impossible task of carrying out thousands of candidate background checks in just ten days. The result was that many were completed after the election, some as recently as April.
The new commission being established by Integrity Commission Chairman Hilal Senussi is said to be looking at ways to speed up the process. It is reported, however, that it is looking for clarification from Congress of its role in relation to the Isolation Law, to help it act more effectively.
At the first meeting of the new municipal councils, the seven councillors (or nine in municipalities with over 250,000 inhabitants) must elect a mayor (amid al-baladiya). There will be no deputy. After that, there will be a handover from the old local councils which will then cease to exist.
The municipal councils will be responsible for local services, such as cleansing, local public transport, parks and gardens, as well as building controls, zoning and traffic regulations. They will not be in charge of schools or local hospitals or clinics. However, they will have a public health department.