Libyan elections

Until yesterday, the Libyan government had maintained the fiction that a national election was scheduled for next Tuesday. They have finally admitted the obvious: having not yet even arranged a list of candidates, it will have to be postponed. Officially only by a fortnight, though the odds of meeting the new July 7th date seem low.

Yesterday’s Observer carried a long article on Libya, before the postponement had been admitted. For them, the problems result from the incompetence of the NTC, in contrast to regional power centres which are getting on with things by themselves:

Misrata held its own city elections in February, the first anywhere in Libya for four decades, and the new council is now busy organising the police, army, education and health services.

And that is the problem. The price of this success has been a divorce from a central government. “We don’t want to be independent, we want Libya to be like us,”

In MERIP, Nicolas Pelham has a different perspective. It is the thuwwars, the armed rebels, who are clinging to military force and the power of patronage, resenting any democratic encroachment on that:

While the militiamen flaunt their might, they seem less confident of public support. No one at the swashbucklers’ Congress mentioned the upcoming elections, scheduled for June 19, as the means of being catapulted to power. Rather, for many the new assembly threatens to transfer authority away from those who “paid the price of the revolution” to elected representatives. “They are afraid that an elected government will limit their voice,” says Milad al-Hawti, a recruit to the Benghazi branch of the Supreme Security Commission. If the thuwwar are to make a bid for power, their window of opportunity is now, while the NTC — with its less than solid legitimacy — still holds the constitutional reins.

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