July 9, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: In Tripoli, Caroline Kolta +218 91-998-3049 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
in Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404-420-5124
Carter Center Congratulates Libyans for Holding Historic Elections
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The July 7 elections provided Libyans an historic opportunity to vote in meaningful national polls for the first time in almost six decades. The Carter Center was honored to be invited to observe the elections, and congratulates the Libyan people, the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), and the National Transitional Council (NTC) for their dedication and efforts to support Libya's democratic transition.
The holding of the elections represents a remarkable achievement of which Libyans are rightly proud. Despite the country's inexperience with elections, and the creation of the HNEC only in January 2012, the election commission effectively conducted the polls in a politically sensitive and potentially volatile environment. Libyan voters and polling staff on election day demonstrated dedication and enthusiasm to a successful democratic transition.
"On behalf of The Carter Center," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, "I thank the Libyan people and the transitional authorities for the warm welcome and cooperation extended to our observers during Saturday's national elections. We are deeply moved and inspired by the demonstration of national determination to build a new Libya, free of tyranny and able to join at last the family of democratic nations in the quest for freedom, dignity, and justice for all people."
The tabulation process is complex and will take time to complete. While tabulation continues, The Carter Center encourages Libyans to be patient for the HNEC to release preliminary results.
Following an invitation from the HNEC, The Carter Center conducted a limited election observation mission, accrediting 45 observers from 21 countries and deploying 16 teams of observers on election day. A core team arrived in May, and was followed by medium- and short-term observers in June and July to assess electoral preparations and polling and counting.
Security considerations prevented the deployment of observers in some areas of the country and restricted their movements in others. The Center's assessment is therefore limited in nature and does not offer a comprehensive assessment of the credibility of Libya's electoral process as a whole. The Center shares its findings and analysis with the HNEC and the public in a spirit of cooperation to enhance the quality of future elections and in support of a successful democratic transition. The Center will release a comprehensive report on its electoral observations and assessments later this year, and looks forward to a constructive and open dialogue with the Libyan people and the authorities.
On election day, Carter Center observers visited more than 160 polling stations in 11 of 13 electoral districts, including teams in Ajdabiya, Al Bayda, Az Zuwiya, Guriyan, Khoms, Benghazi, Sebha, Subrata, Tobruk, Tripoli, and Zuwara.
The NTC established an ambitious schedule for the elections, which the HNEC strived to meet. Training and the promulgation of regulations were affected by the compressed time frame; some training of polling staff was incomplete and important aspects of the legal framework were only finalized in the days before the elections.
Despite these challenges, materials were delivered in a timely manner to nearly all locations. In areas visited by Carter Center observers, voting was orderly and polling stations were well managed and efficient. Polling staff appeared well trained and enthusiastically conducted the elections in a neutral and professional manner.
The commission made extraordinary efforts to conduct polling in all locations despite security incidents in the immediate election period and on election day. Attacks on HNEC district headquarters in Benghazi, Tobruk, Ajdabiya, and on a military helicopter used by HNEC to deliver election materials, resulted in one death. These incidents, coupled with attacks against polling stations in Benghazi, Ghemenis, and Ajdabiya on election day, marred the process in these areas. Nevertheless, the commission was able to replace damaged materials, and more than 94 percent of polling centers opened the morning of the elections. Additional centers were opened later and on the following day.
Voters appeared determined to defy these efforts to derail the elections and to participate by casting their ballots. At polling centers elsewhere in the country that were visited by Carter Center observers the atmosphere was calm, with voters patiently queuing and in many cases celebrating their right to cast ballots.
The rapid growth of domestic observer organizations was encouraging. Libyan observers monitored the process in 75 percent of the polling sites visited by Carter Center observers. More than 10,000 political entity and individual candidate representatives registered to observe the elections. As the democratic system and political parties mature, the Center encourages party agents and domestic observers to play a more effective role in observing elections in order to provide an important check on polling operations and increase the transparency and credibility of the vote.
The Center offers the following recommendations to be considered for future elections:
These recommendations are elaborated in the Carter Center's full preliminary statement, available at www.cartercenter.org.
The Carter Center assessment of the electoral process is made against the interim constitutional declaration, Libya's election laws and regulations, and the country's international commitments regarding democratic elections and political participation. The Carter Center received formal accreditation from the HNEC in May 2012 and has been welcomed by representatives of the NTC, political entities, and civil society. The Center is nonpartisan and conducts its activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, adopted at the United Nations in 2005.
"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Center has observed more than 90 elections in 36 countries. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.