Libyan election commission says needs budget for February constitution vote

Emad al-Sayah, chairman of the High National Elections Commission. Photo: RR

NEWSROOM (ADV) – Libya’s electoral commission has asked the government for $28.7 million, saying the funding is needed to boost its “zero” budget to organise a vote on a new constitution as early as February.

Western powers and the United Nations hope Libya will hold a national election by June after a referendum on a constitutional framework to chart a way out of a conflict stemming from the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

A French plan, backed by the United Nations, had initially called for a presidential and parliamentary vote on Dec. 10.

But weeks of fighting in the capital Tripoli between competing groups and almost no progress between the North African country’s two rival parliaments made that impossible.

Now Emad al-Sayah, chairman of the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), said on Thursday his group needed funding to plan for the constitutional vote.

“The budget of the commission is zero, it’s red,” he told reporters. “We have financial commitments of half a million (dinars).”

He said the commission had asked the Tripoli-based government to get 40 million dinars ($28.7 million) to start the process for a constitutional vote.

It was not immediately possible to reach the internationally backed government.

Sayah said such a constitutional referendum could be held as early as February, if a budget had been allocated to import technical equipment and ballot materials.

“HNEC will announce the process at the end of January and the process will be finished at the end of February,” he said, describing a February date as an estimate.

A draft constitution has been drawn up to be put to a referendum, but it is not clear how that will work.

The United Nations also wants to stage a national conference for Libyans in early 2019 to overcome divisions and decide what type of elections they want, presidential or parliamentary.

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