Libya Delays Election Amid Security Concerns

Posted June 11th, 2012 at 4:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Libya has postponed a landmark election until next month, prepare better for the nation';s first vote since longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi was de4posed and killed in last year's armed rebellion.

The U.N. mission in Libya praised the decision to delay the national-assembly election from June 19 until July 7, saying this will provide enough time to complete “essential preparations” for the election. U.N. envoy Ian Martin said Libya's election commission has made “admirable” progress in the context of what he called “an extremely tight timetable and major operational challenges.”

Poor security in parts of Libya is a concern for election planners. A rocket-propelled grenade hit a British diplomatic convoy in Benghazi Monday, wounding two security guards, and attackers set off an explosion last week in the same eastern city, next to the U.S. diplomatic mission.

Another challenge facing organizers is the lack of an effective government bureaucracy in post-Gadhafi Libya.

The national assembly to be elected next month will be charged with writing a new constitution, and forming a government to succeed the unelected National Transitional Council that has been administering the country since Gadhafi was toppled.

Libya's election commission chief, Nouri Al-Abbar, says the 18-day postponement will give people more time to register to vote, and allow authorities more time to examine candidates' qualifications. Speaking to reporters in Tripoli, Abbar said his commission only started work in February – a tight schedule for organizing the North African country's first national election in more than four decades.

Libyan authorites say they have recorded election registrations from 80 percent of the eligible voters – about 2.7 million people. Dozens of new political parties have been formed to contest 80 of the assembly's 200 seats. The other 120 seats are reserved for independent candidates.

U.N. envoy Martin says he has confidence in the commitment of Libyan authorities to see an “early and successful conclusion of the electoral process.”