Libya’s elections commission to open candidate registration in Nov

Registration for candidates in Libya’s presidential and parliamentary elections should open in the first half of November, Emad al-Sayah, the head of the High National Elections Commission, said Sunday.

The registration process should open in mid-November when technical and logistical preparations are completed, al-Sayah added.

Wrangling over the constitutional basis for elections, the rules governing the vote and questions over its credibility have threatened to unravel the country’s peace process over the last months.

The Commission is tasked with organizing general elections on Dec. 24 in accordance with Libya’s political roadmap agreed by the United Nations-supervised Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.

Libya still faces a number of obstacles before its people can go to the polls, including unresolved issues over the country’s elections laws, occasional infighting among armed groups and the deep rift that remains between the country’s east and west, separated for nearly seven years by civil war.

Hopefuls for the presidential election, slated for Dec. 24, are set to declare their candidacies in the coming days and there are signs that some figures who rose to prominence during the war could take part.

Libya’s chief diplomat said the transitional government is working to hold long-awaited elections later this year, but security, political and economic stability are necessary for a peaceful transition to a new government.

Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush spoke with The Associated Press (AP) late Friday in the capital, Tripoli, a day after the Libyan government hosted a high-level conference aimed at resolving the country’s thorniest issues ahead of elections in December.

“To reach a peaceful transition, attention must be paid to the security and military affairs and to push the wheel of the economy in Libya,” she said.

Mangoush said she hopes Libyans would accept the results of the vote which, if held, would be the country’s first election since 2014.

Mangoush said the conference Thursday attended by Western, regional and U.N. representatives was a push to implement the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign forces from the oil-rich country before holding the presidential and parliamentary votes.

“The conference has a great and very deep symbolism for all Libyans,” she said, and added it was “the biggest indication that Libya is recovering.”

Libya has been engulfed in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

After months of U.N.-backed negotiations, an interim government was appointed in February to lead the country to elections. As the countdown to the vote begins, differences are reemerging between Libyan rivals – putting the entire reconciliation process at risk.

In September, Libya’s powerful, east-based putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar announced he was suspending his role as leader of the self-styled Libyan army for the next three months – the clearest indication yet that he may be contemplating a run for president in the December elections. Should he run, he would be one of the frontrunners but his candidacy would likely stir controversy in western Libya and Tripoli, the stronghold of his opponents, many of them armed groups with varying alliances.

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