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Carter Center Urges Intensified Voter Education and Security Coordination Ahead of Libya's Elections

Contacts: In Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404-420-5124; in Tripoli, Dirk Vandewalle +218 94-467-5362

The Carter Center is conducting a small expert mission in Libya to assess the legal framework, key issues related to the administration and preparation of elections, and the overall political environment ahead of Feb. 20 elections for the Constitutional Drafting Assembly. These elections represent an important stage in the country's transition to democracy.  In advance of the elections, the Center encourages Libyan authorities to intensify voter information efforts and to strengthen security coordination in the final days leading to the polls to support peaceful and inclusive polls.

This will be the second election in the sequence established under the constitutional declaration issued by the National Transitional Council. The first election, which established the General National Congress, was recognized by domestic and international observers as democratic and transparent. Pressures on the congress, however, led to changes in the original timeline for the transition process set by the constitutional declaration. The Constitution Drafting Assembly elections offer an opportunity to imbue the transition with new momentum.

Following an invitation from the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), The Carter Center has deployed a team of six experts to Libya to assess the elections. The Carter Center team visited Libya in December to learn about the candidate registration process and other key preparations, and returned in mid-January to assess political conditions and key election administration issues.

In light of security considerations, which restrict the size of the team and prevent deployment outside of Tripoli, the Center's expert mission is limited in nature and will not offer a comprehensive assessment of the electoral process and election day proceedings.  The focus of the expert assessment is on the legal framework, election administration, technical preparations, the general political environment, and the resolution of any electoral disputes.

Legal and Electoral Framework
A sound legal and electoral framework, including domestic laws that regulate the electoral process, is essential to the effective administration of genuine democratic elections.

The Constitution Drafting Assembly elections are being organized pursuant to the Interim Constitutional Declaration as amended by the General National Congress on April 9, 2013, Law 17 of 2013 (the election law), Law 8 of 2013 (on the establishment of the HNEC), and regulations passed by the HNEC Board of Commissioners. On Jan. 30, 2014, the General National Congress announced that elections for the 60-member assembly will be held on Feb. 20, the date set by the HNEC. Out-of-country voting will take place Feb. 15-17.

The final version of the election law set aside six seats for women and another six seats for Libya's  Amazigh, Touareg, and Tebu populations, referred to under Libyan law as cultural components. Many Libyan women's advocates and representatives of the cultural components have been critical of these provisions, which they say do not confer sufficient representation. It is with serious concern that the Center notes the lack of an agreement to resolve a boycott undertaken by the Amazigh. The Center encourages all parties to continue efforts to include all of Libya's people in the constitutional process.

An independent and impartial election management body that functions transparently is recognized internationally as an effective means of ensuring a genuinely democratic electoral process.[1] These elections are being administered by the HNEC, an independent body that is based in Tripoli, consisting of a board of commissioners, a central administration office, and 17 electoral committee offices covering all regions in Libya. Polling and counting will be conducted in more than 1,500 election centers across the country, while tabulation and announcement of the results will take place at the central HNEC office in Tripoli.

The HNEC conducted voter registration in two separate phases between Dec. 1, 2013, and Jan. 16, 2014. The commission extended the voter registration period several times in an effort to increase participation. According to the HNEC, 1,101,541 Libyans have registered to vote in the upcoming polls. Although data on the number of eligible voters is not available, registration for the General National Congress elections, although acknowledged by the HNEC as having been inflated by duplicate registrations, stood at 2,865,937 voters.

For election day, polling officials are being trained through a four-tier cascade training managed by HNEC. The first three stages, observed by The Carter Center, were comprehensive and interactive, giving the trainers and election officials the opportunity to address practical issues that may arise on election day. Despite political tensions and the security challenges in some regions, the HNEC has completed technical preparations for the elections within the necessary time and in an impartial manner.

Libya's transition to democracy has been marred by sporadic low-level violence and instability. Given the tensions in Libya's political process and the localized violence that occurred in the east just prior to the General National Congress elections, a comprehensive plan for security on polling day is a necessity. The Ministry of the Interior has primary responsibility for providing election security. The ministry plans to deploy 25 police officers to each election center. As the Libyan police force suffers from a widely acknowledged lack of capacity, the Center encourages the government to coordinate security efforts and to emphasize the need for all Libyans to support the democratic process and observe polling day peacefully.

Although the Center's expert mission is too limited in size to assess the campaign process around the county, the mission is analyzing the legal framework for campaigning, and is monitoring reports from various Libyan interlocutors regarding campaign issues. The campaign period began on Dec. 25, 2013, following the publication of the final list of candidates, and ends 24 hours prior to the opening of polls.

Key stakeholders have reported to Carter Center representatives that campaigning has been subdued. With the notable exception of a possible assassination attempt targeting a prominent lawyer and candidate in Tripoli, the campaign period has proceeded largely without incident. Ongoing insecurity, particularly in the East and the South, however, may have prevented candidates from campaigning. Interlocutors informed The Carter Center that due to limited funds, many candidates were waiting for the official announcement of the election date to begin a full-fledged campaign, which occurred on Jan. 30, 2014.

The election law and the regulations issued by the HNEC for campaigning in the media require the HNEC to work with public media to ensure all registered candidates are given free airtime and print space on an equal basis. However neither the election law nor the HNEC regulations explain how this time and space will be allocated to candidates. To date candidates do not appear to be taking advantage of this provision.

Candidates still have a limited period of time in which to reach voters and communicate their positions on key constitutional issues. Given the importance for voters of the opportunity to make an informed choice, The Carter Center encourages candidates to make full use of the resources available to them to get their message out, and the HNEC and public media outlets to facilitate candidates' access to media.

While there are no binding obligations in international law regarding campaign finance, good practice calls for its regulation to ensure transparency and accountability. In Libya, HNEC regulations have set spending limits and all candidates, regardless of the results, are required by law to submit a report on campaign finances within seven days of polling.[2] The HNEC has made a concerted effort to raise candidate awareness of the reporting obligations and spending limits, as well as the severity of punishments for non-compliance. These punishments include the revoking of a candidate's registration, imprisonment, fines, and a prohibition from standing in future elections for a period of five years. The Carter Center therefore encourages the HNEC to continue its efforts to inform candidates of these requirements and all candidates to familiarize themselves with their obligations under the law.

Voter Information and Education
An effective voter education campaign is crucial to ensuring that an informed electorate can properly exercise their right to vote.[3] According to the Center's initial assessment of voter education, the absence of a visible voter education campaign has been a significant concern in the period leading up to the elections, and may have had a negative impact on voter registration.

The Center's initial assessment, based reports from interlocutors, suggests that the general public's knowledge of the Constitution Drafting Assembly elections is quite limited. Many Libyans seem unfamiliar with basic facts about the process, such as the voting procedures for the seats reserved for women, Amazigh, Tuareg, and Tebu. This is a particular concern for the four seats for which the winner of the general race will be replaced by the winner of the special race for women in that area. In the interest of reducing post-election disputes, the HNEC should clarify to candidates and the public how these seats will be filled.

The HNEC is responsible for educating and raising citizens' awareness about the electoral process. As part of its wider education campaign, the HNEC plans to air television and radio spots in addition to publishing newspapers ads, posters, and leaflets. The Carter Center encourages the HNEC to fully implement this plan and intensify its voter education efforts in the time remaining to provide voters with the necessary information, including the election date, polling hours and locations, and in particular detailed voting procedures and ballot design. Only such an intensified effort will enable voters' full participation.

Voter education also plays a critical role in ensuring access to an effective remedy for all election stakeholders. In order for an electoral dispute resolution mechanism to be effective, voters and candidates must be aware of the procedures, and the process must be clear and understandable to all stakeholders. The Carter Center therefore urges the HNEC to use the time remaining before election day to inform both voters and candidates of their rights to file complaints and appeal decisions and make the process accessible to all.

The Carter Center in Libya
The Carter Center is nonpartisan and conducts its assessments against the interim constitutional declaration, Libya's national election laws and regulations, and the country's international commitments regarding democratic elections and political participation. In the context of the expert mission, the Carter Center team is meeting with officials from the HNEC; political entities and 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. The team's findings and analysis will be shared with HNEC and the public in a spirit of cooperation to enhance the quality of future elections. The Carter Center intends to release a preliminary statement of findings and conclusions following the announcement of preliminary results by the HNEC.


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; and improving mental health care. 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.

The Carter 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. The Center received formal accreditation from the HNEC in January 2014. All statements released by the Center will be available on its website,


[1] United Nations Human Rights Council General Comment No. 25, para. 20.

[2] Law 17 of 2013, Article 20.

[3] UNHRC, General Comment No. 25, para. 11.


يحث مركز كارتر عمى تكثيف توعية الناخبين والتنسيق الأمنيقبيل الإنتخابات في ليبيا

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