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Libya’s election committee dissolved ahead of polls

Interim head of Libya's government Ramadan Abu Jnah speaks during a press conference on the upcoming December 24 elections, in the capital, Tripoli, on December 12, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Days before Libya’s presidential and parliamentary elections, authorities have ordered the dissolution of the electoral committee, a move that is expected to postpone the vote.

The head of the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC), Imad al-Sayeh, ordered on Monday “the disbandment of electoral regional and local branch offices and committees,” according to a leaked internal statement.

A member of the HNEC’s board of directors confirmed the authenticity of the document on Tuesday.

Last week, the country’s UN-recognized government declared its readiness to hold the elections on Friday, but days before the polls, no official list of candidates has been presented to the public and no formal campaigning is underway.

There has been no formal announcement on a postponement either. The HNEC, the technical body overseeing the polls, says it is the responsibility of the Libyan parliament to make the announcement of a postponement.

Some members of the house, however, have called for a new government to be installed, claiming the mandate of the interim government has expired.

The interim government was formed in February to take the country through to elections.

Libya has been beset by violence and chaos since the overthrow and killing of its long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi following a bombing campaign by the US-led NATO military alliance in 2011.

The resulting chaos and factional divisions then escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers, who poured weapons and mercenaries into the country.

After a long spell of violence lasting more than a decade, the war-torn North African country is set for a historic democratic transition. The election process, however, has been undermined by divisions over the legal basis for the poll, dates, and who should be allowed to run, with a string of controversial figures stepping forward.

The December 24 date for presidential and parliamentary elections has been set for more than a year.

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