Politics & Economics

Libya prepares for the first local elections in years

North Africa

While parliamentary elections in Libya are due to be held next year, preparations for the country's local elections are ongoing, with more than 70 municipalities completing local council registration.

Voter registration has opened for people across Libya, allowing citizens to finally elect their local councils after an absence of over two decades. Under the Gaddafi regime, the state was highly centralised, with local governance managed by the central government. Following the 2011 revolution, municipal councils adopted a process of decentralisation but the ongoing conflicts in the country have stymied the local government’s ability to proceed with the local electoral process.

With the situation in Libya improving, however, the Central Committee for Local Elections announced in early November that voter registration would be open soon.

“We previously announced that December 12th, 2018 will be the date that we will open the voter registration as we proceed with the electoral process,” said Salem bin Tahia, the head of the Central Committee for Local Elections.

According to the officials, the local elections will be taking place in over 70 municipalities throughout the country.

While the country’s parliamentary elections do not have a set date, observers say that the local elections are a good start for the next phase of democracy in Libya.

“Any movement towards [holding] elections will contribute towards stabilising Libya once again, especially at the service level,” said Nouri al-Abar, the former director of the National Electoral High Commission.

In preparation for the elections, the Central Committee for Local Elections held a seminar, which was attended by local and international observers and officials.

Representatives from Libya’s Tuareg, Amazigh and Tabu minorities participated in the seminar to support this process, and discuss some of the difficulties that their groups have been facing in regards to the election.

“This is an opportunity for us to discuss our issues and problems that impede the registration of our names in elections,” said Mawlay Qdeedi, the head of the Social Committee for Tuaregs in Libya.

While many are waiting for the national elections that are scheduled for Spring 2019, the holding of local elections in Libya is a positive step for the country, as it allows citizens to participate in the political process that directly impacts their cities and municipalities.