The 2012 elections marked a pivotal moment in Libya's history as the country attempted to move beyond its authoritarian past under Muammar Qaddafi and toward genuine democratic governance. For most of the Qaddafi years, political parties were banned and the government strictly monitored political activity; organizing or joining a political party could result in a long prison term or death sentence. But during the 2011 Arab Spring, the people revolted, and the nation took its first steps toward democracy.
The U.N. General Assembly recognized the National Transition Council (NTC) as the legitimate interim governing body in Libya in September 2011. The NTC declared Libya liberated in October 2011 after Qaddafi was killed. Shortly thereafter, it announced plans for the election of a General National Congress that would appoint an interim government and oversee preparations for the drafting of a new constitution by a Constitutional Drafting Assembly, to be selected either through elections or appointment. The NTC created an electoral commission, which was charged with preparing for and overseeing the congressional elections.
After receiving an invitation from the electoral commission, the Center deployed a limited observer mission to monitor the elections, held on July 7, 2012. While the mission was limited in geographic coverage because of security conditions, observer teams assessed election preparations, campaigning by political entities and candidates, polling and counting, the tabulation of results, and the resolution of any electoral disputes. On election day, short-term observers visited polling stations in many parts of the country.The Center released a preliminary statement on July 9, 2012, that detailed recommendations for future elections.
Following the initial congressional elections, the Center deployed a team of six political and electoral experts to assess the Feb. 20, 2014, elections for a Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA). The small team, which was based in Tripoli from December 2013 until March 2014, assessed the legal framework and key issues related to the administration and preparation of elections, as well as the overall political environment in advance of the polls. Again, the security situation in the country limited the Center's ability to conduct a comprehensive assessment. But the Carter Center team met with officials from the electoral commission; political entities; candidates; members of the General National Congress and the judiciary; representatives of Libyan civil society, including domestic observers; members of the international community; and voters.
It released a public statement shortly before the election detailing its findings, and published a final report (PDF) of its assessment in May 2014.
Following the February 2014 elections, the political situation in Libya devolved into fractious conflict as two different regimes claimed supremacy. Because of the increased security risks posed by the conflict, The Carter Center closed its office in Libya.
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QUICK FACTS: LIBYA
Size: 1,759,540 square kilometers
Life expectancy: 76 years
Ethnic groups: Berber and Arab, other (includes Greeks, Maltese, Italians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Turks, Indians, and Tunisians)
Religions: Sunni Muslim (official), Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, folk religion, other
Languages: Arabic (official), Italian, English (all widely understood in the major cities), Berber (Nafusi, Ghadamis, Suknah, Awjilah, Tamasheq)
Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2016