Post-Election Workshop to Build on Achievement, Draw Lessons for Future Pollings

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2 Dec 2012

Post-Election Workshop to Build on Achievement, Draw Lessons for Future Pollings

A workshop organized by High National Election Commission examined ways to build on Libya's first such experience in 42 years and prepare the ground for better polling in the future.

Over 80 Libyans and foreigners from groups which observed the 7 July 2012 General National Congress elections sat down in a Tripoli meeting room for the two-day "Election Observer Forum", which was organized by HNEC in cooperation with the United Nations.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Mr. Tarek Mitri, and the Chairman of Libya's High National Election Commission, Mr. Nuri Al-Abbar, at the opening of the two-day "Electoral Observer Forum" Workshop in Tripoli 28 November 2012.

The aim of the workshop was to hone the performance of the teams which took part in the election process, review the reports of the observer groups, look at gaps, benefit from lessons learned and draw recommendations on how to improve skills in time for the next elections.

Libya is expected to have more elections in the coming period. While it is still not decided whether a 60-member committee to draft a new constitution for the country will be elected by the public or appointed by the Congress, Libya is expected to hold a referendum on the proposed constitution after that and then national elections to pick a Parliament under the new constitution and a new electoral law.

Over 11,000 Libyan observers and some 190 international observers took part in the GNC electoral process.

In opening the 28-29 November workshop, HNEC Chairman Nuri Al-Abbar urged members of the Commission to be open in the discussions and to benefit from the experiences presented.

"By listening to the opinions we are able to explore the points of weakness and strength," he said. "Issues noted by the observers are valuable and we accept and we will deal with it positively in developing the election process."

Later, he said in an interview that the workshop is an opportunity to organize better elections "by looking at mistakes and avoid repeating it in the future, and developing the positive aspects."

A member of the elected GNC and Head of the assembly's Committee for Media, Culture and Civil Society, Hassan Lamin, said at the opening session that developing the election process "will no doubt carry results that are beneficial for all of us."

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya Tarek Mitri congratulated the HNEC on the GNC elections but said elections are only a part of the democratic change, hence necessitating assessment of the election process.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya Mr. Tarek Mitri addresses the opening session of the "Electoral Observer Forum" workshop.

"What you achieved was a great accomplishment that deserved wide appreciation in the Arab world and the world at large," he said in his opening remarks, adding that the elections also showed the commitment of the Libyan people to the country's democratic transformation.

"Assessing the election observations is something of extreme importance, not just for drawing lessons but also because it points to the fact that the election is not a detached historical moment and that it is part of the democratic path," said SRSG Mitri, who also heads the UN Support Mission in Libya.

"I am hopeful about this workshop," Najmeh Al-Abedlessir, of the "Change Forum for Women Empowerment" group which observed the election in the town of Al-Baida in eastern Libya, said in an interview. "The reports are credible and transparent and we hope we can benefit from the expertise."

Her colleague from the same group, Hoda Abdullah Ltayef, said the workshop could help develop people's awareness about the election process.

"We expect awareness sessions for the citizens – candidates and voters – and for the women so everyone can understand their political, economic and social rights," she added.

Kifah Hussein Al-Bakoush, of the "Gathering of the Mothers of the Mujahedeen", another Libyan group, said there should be awareness and educational sessions on the constitution since many people do not understand the constitutional process.

A number of recommendations were issued after the workshop. The recommendations included, among other things, that HNEC becomes permanent and its role expanded to oversee elections of associations and clubs. It recommended that observers should continue to operate and greater efforts be made to educate those involved in the electoral process.