First Published: 2012-05-23

 

Benghazi’s Local Elections: A Message of Confidence to the Rest of Libya and the World

 

The NTC should be careful not to undermine the democratic voice of the people in Benghazi, Musrata and Zuwara where representatives have been democratically elected, says Mohamed Eljarh.

 

Middle East Online

On Saturday May 19, Benghazi witnessed a historic moment with successful local elections conducted smoothly and peacefully, with local and international observers expressing their complete satisfaction with the manner and atmosphere the elections were conducted in.

The elections in Libya’s second largest city could give early indications to Libyans’ ability to practice democracy in its best form. International and national observers praised the role of the civic society in the city, and there was also great deal of praise to the Supreme Security Committee that secured the city and elections process on the day and long before that.

Most fascinating were the scenes during the results announcement ceremony which highlighted the joy and happiness of the people, and showed that Libyans were hungry for democracy and freedom. Democracy was portrayed in its best form in Benghazi with opponents greeting each other and wishing best of luck to the winners. Such sentiment proves that the candidates had one goal and one ultimate common purpose, and that was to how best serve the city and the citizens of Benghazi.

Another fascinating result from the Benghazi elections was the winning of female candidate Najat El Kikhia with the highest share of votes of all candidates. Najat who is an associate lecturer in statistics at Benghazi University won the trust of the people in her voting district, and such vote proves that Libyans are prepared to give their trust and vote for a female candidate as much as they would for a male candidate, if that candidate showed competence and ability to represent the aspirations and needs of the people.

One of the main reasons behind the successful elections in Benghazi is the leadership of the retired judge Sulieman Zubi and his team, who made sure that the procedures, processes and rules were made as easy and accessible as possible. The planning and preparation process has been very inclusive and consultations with the public and civic society took place throughout the process.

The NTC should not be complacent about the complexities of the elections process and should extract lessons from Zuwara, Musrata and Benghazi’s local elections. Consultations with the public and civic society would guarantee most of the challenges and problems are highlighted and innovative ideas presented to make the election process as simple and flexible as possible and overcome the challenges.

Soon after the announcement of the elections results in Benghazi and the celebrations that followed in the city, a momentum started to gather pace in Tripoli and Zawyia calling for elected local councils for the two cities. Tripoli is the hub for Libya as the largest city with the highest population in Libya, and local council elections in Tripoli would ensure and safeguard the democratic transition for the rest of Libya. The local council elections in Tripoli were planned for May 2012, but never materialized due to lack of transparency in forming the elections commission in Tripoli, and also lack of consultation and public support for the local elections commission in the city.

Local elections should have been conducted throughout Libya, because they would have safeguarded the democratic transition in the country. The NTC should be careful not to undermine the democratic voice of the people in Benghazi, Musrata and Zuwara where representatives have been democratically elected. The current NTC representatives for Benghazi pledged to give up their seats to the newly elected representatives for Benghazi. However, there is opposition within the NTC to the replacement of current representatives with elected ones.

At the moment there is no legal framework that clearly defines the roles responsibilities and duties of the local councils. The NTC is the central government and has control of all the legislative and part of the executive powers in the country. Libya should hope that the general elections will bring a better representative government with better popular mandate to govern and ensure that power is shared between the central and local governments.

Benghazi elected 44 candidates, 11 of which will replace Benghazi’s current representatives within the NTC. Once the NTC is dissolved and replaced by the National Assembly the 11 members would then return to their roles as representatives of the people of Benghazi in the local council.

Many who voted in Benghazi to elect their representatives, have done so for the first time in their lives, and many see these elections as the least they can do to make sure that the sacrifices of martyrs and wounded didn’t go in vain. It will be interesting to analyse how the people in Benghazi voted and on what basis they casted their votes for future elections reference.

Mohamed Eljarh is a UK based Libyan academic researcher and political, social development activist. He is from the city of Tobruk in Eastern Libya. [Email:m.eljarh@yahoo.co.uk ].

Follow me on Twitter: @Eljarh

Copyright © 2012 Mohamed Eljarh

 

Yemen government returns to Aden with eyes set on Sanaa

Arbil urges PKK to move out of Iraq Kurdistan

Syria army pushes back rebels near Latakia province

ISIS flexes muscles in eastern Libya

Iraq protesters vent anger over poor services

Egypt court postpones verdict on brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri

Immigration surpasses economy as major concern in Europe

Plane crash kills family members of Bin Laden

Erdogan calls for early elections if no coalition

Palestinian baby killed in arson attack by Jewish settlers

Kurds in Diyarbakir fear return to war

State of emergency in Tunisia extended

Jerusalem Gay Pride attack suspect lashes out in court

'Kurdish Obama' faces his biggest test

Yemen blockade 'killing' as many civilians as war

EU urges Israel to show 'zero tolerance for settler violence'

Cash-strapped Tunisia's Syphax airline grounds flights

Pentagon denies US-trained rebels captured in Syria

Morocco king calls for development of remote regions

Host of US celebrities endorses Iran nuclear deal

PKK braces for fight with Turkey in Iraq mountain bastions

Kurdish party chief dismisses Turkey anti-IS raids

Thomas Cook warns Tunisia attacks affect annual results

Three Al-Jazeera journalists await Egypt retrial verdict

Kuwait uncovers new IS cell

One Turkish police killed in attack blamed on PKK

Israel approves law allowing force feeding of prisoners

New sexist gaffe of Turkish deputy PM: 'As a woman, be quiet!

UN envoy invites Syrians to ‘thematic’ talks

Egypt's gift to the world: Suez Canal Axis

Pentagon to worried lawmakers: We will remain vigilant on Iran

Hamas calls for revolt against Palestinian Authority

ISIS claims deadly car bomb in Yemen capital

Allies tolerate Turkey's double game to boost IS fight

Somalia ‘making progress’ despite insecurity and election delay

Germany, Iraqi Kurds say Turkey should resume peace process

Syria skeptical about Turkey's intentions in fight against ISIS

Somalia indentifies hotel bomber as former German resident

US gets formal approval to use Incirlik air base in Turkey

Saudi policeman killed, 2 injured in attack

Israel PM approves 300 settler homes in occupied West Bank

Jordan jails 8 for "plotting a terrorist act"

Israel committed war crimes on 'Black Friday'

Israeli strike on Syrian town kills 5 pro-regime fighters

Yemen orders militia to merge with army