Libya’s parliament, the House of Representatives in the eastern city of Tobruk, convened on January 3 to decide on the National Election Commission proposal to hold the first-round vote on January 24. Under the proposal, the presidential election would be followed by parliamentary elections the following month, on February 15.
The Commission postponed the vote just two days before it was to take place on December 24 -- the 70th anniversary of Libyan independence. The delay triggered anger throughout the nation.
Emad al-Sayeh, head of the Commission, told HoR members that unforeseeable circumstances led to a “force majeure.” Al-Sayeh cited “threats made to the Commission against publishing the final list of presidential candidates containing certain names.” The move is an apparent reference to a court ruling that reinstated Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s candidacy after the Commission had rejected it.
The son of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Gaddafi is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.
Another candidate is Khalifa Haftar, a warlord based in eastern Libya who carried out a 14-month-long siege of Tripoli, Libya’s capital.
Both interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Fathi Bashagha, former Interior Minister in the UN-backed Government of National Accord, are also running.
A poll by the Tripoli-based Diwan Research found that 74 percent of Libyans “strongly oppose” delaying the election.
The survey questioned 1,106 registered voters from the country’s western, eastern and southern regions between December 1-5.
Diwan found that Dbeibah is the most favored candidate throughout Libya with 49.7 percent overall support, followed by Saif Gaddafi with 14 percent. Haftar has 7.3 percent overall, while Bashagha has the backing of just 1.5 percent of Libya’s electorate.
The poll suggests that Dbeibah will garner 63 percent in a run-off against Saif Gaddafi and 73 percent against Haftar.
WSJ Commentary: Biden Can Make Up for Obama’s Libya Neglect
Christian Science Monitor: Libya Elections: Can Internal Conflict Move From Bullets To Ballots?
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