Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Forgotten Libya Update - June 24 , 2014 ----- Libya heads to the polling places on June 25 , 2014 for its third Legislative Election since Gaddafi was deposed in 2011 ........ Libya prepares to vote amid tensions Libyans will vote for a 200-seat House of Representatives that will replace the discredited General National Congress ...... Mysterious purported Strongman General Khalifa Hafter threatens Turks and Qatari to leave in 48 hours or else ( Turkish workers start to leave including those working construction projects - this may result in power cuts including in Tripoli ) ...........

Al Jazeera......

Libya prepares to vote amid tensions

Libyans will vote for a 200-seat House of Representatives that will replace the discredited General National Congress.

Last updated: 24 Jun 2014 13:52
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Third legislative election will take place on June 25 amid the worst violence Libya has seen in three years [AFP]
Libyans go to the polls on June 25 to elect a new national parliament despite much of the country being in the grip of the worst violence since the 2011 uprising.
The vote will be Libya's third legislative election since the declaration of liberation that signalled the end of the 2011 popular uprising against former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.
The 200-seat House of Representatives will replace the discredited General National Congress (GNC) which had become gridlocked in recent months in disputes between Islamists and their opponents.
On June 21 and 22, 11,000 registered Libyan voters in 13 foreign countries cast their votes in 22 voting stations, according to the Higher National Elections Committee (HNEC).
The vote on June 25 takes place against a backdrop of tribal skirmishes in the south and several weeks of attacks by the forces of former General Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by sections of the army and air force, against Islamist fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi.

HNEC, the election organisers, insist that all 1,300 polling stations will be open on election day, and Haftar's forces have pledged a ceasefire for the day.
But battles and air strikes on militia bases in Benghazi have left much of the city a war zone, casting doubts on voter security, while tribal skirmishes have left several dead in Sebha, the largest city in the southern Fezzan province.
Adding to the problems are calls for boycotts in western Libya among sections of the Amazigh, Tobu and Tuareg minorities, each concerned that it has not secured wide enough representation in the new parliament.
Organisers are also dealing with apathy among voters, with only 1.5 million of Libya's six million population registered to vote, less than half the number who registered for the elections in 2012 which were the first since the Arab uprisings.
Thirty of the 200 seats are reserved for female candidates, a quota system rights groups say is necessary to ensure some female participation, although female voter participation is high, accounting for 600,000 of registered voters.
Adding to the unpredictability of the result is that all seats are contested individually, a change from the previous congress which had a proportion allocated for political parties.

The political divide in Libya is complicated by political and ethnic rivalries, and the chaos and insecurity mean there have been no recent opinion polls. In the 2012 election, the nationalist National Forces Alliance won 48 percent of the vote, with the Justice and Construction Party led by the Muslim Brotherhood securing second place with 10 percent.
But diplomats say the atomised structure of Libyan politics makes predictions difficult. "Party machines are not very strong, it's going to be a hard one to call," said one diplomat.
Violence and boycotts marred voting in February for the commission tasked with writing Libya's constitution, with 13 of the 60 seats left unfilled. One Libyan official said that he thought a partial election would be better than none at all. "An election will take place in most constituencies, I am sure of that, so we will have a parliament," he said.
Along with the fighting raging in Benghazi, the new parliament will confront an 11-month-old blockade of the bulk of Libya's oil production which has cost the country $30bn in lost revenue. An agreement to end the blockade reached between rebel leaders and the government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni in April has broken down, and it remains to be seen if a new legislature can summon the authority to get the ports open.
On June 23, the European Union called for all sides to support the election, noting a "significant deterioration of the political and security situation in Libya".
Campaigning in the capital, Tripoli - the scene of sporadic clashes between rival militias in recent months - has been low-key, in part because the focus is on individual candidates rather than political parties.
"What everyone wants around here is some order, a bit of peace," said Hassan, a Tripoli student.

Libya Herald......

Turkish workers in eastern Libya leave following Hafter threat

By Taher Zaroog.
Misrata, 24 June 2014:
Two planeloads of Turks working in Libya were airlifted from Misrata today.
The exodus follows General Khalifa Hafter’s warning three days ago to Turks and Qataris “from Sirte to Musaid” to quit the country “within 48 hours”. Hafter’s spokesman Mohamed Hejazi alleged at the time that there were Turkish and Qatari spies in the two communities, threatening action  against them if they did not go.
Those who left Misrata today – some 417 – were working for Turkish construction company Gama, which is building the new Khalij Power Station in Sirte. They had been bussed in early this morning, arriving at the airport at 6am according to an airport official. He told the Libya Herald that 286 flew out at midday and the rest of the second flight at 3 pm.
A third plane was due to fly from Labraq to Istanbul this evening to take Turks from the Benghazi area, according to Turkish officials.
Gama has issued as statement saying that that it had evacuated its employees after “taking into consideration the latest developments in Libya”. It indicated that it had chartered the two aircraft.
The departure of the Gama workers may result in further power cuts, particularly in the Tripoli area. The first of four 350-megawatt turbines at the Khalij Power Station was commissioned and linked to the national grid just three weeks ago.  The exodus means that the other units will not be brought on stream at present and the turbine that is already working  may have to be turned off without the staff to monitor it.

Election 2014: Juma Ateega warns Congress members standing for the House of Representatives

By Moutaz Ali and Ashraf Abdul-Wahab.
Swehli still strongly believes in the Political Isolation Law (Photo: Sami Zaptia).
Standing again: Misrata politician Abdurrahman Sewehli hopes to make it into the new House of Representatives (File Photo: Sami Zaptia).
Tripoli, 24 June 2014:
The former First Deputy President of the General National Congress, lawyer Juma Ateega, has claimed that member of Congress are constitutionally barred from standing in tomorrow’s elections to the new House of Representatives.
Speaking on Aljazeera TV last night, he said that under the August 2011 Constitutional Declaration, which for the moment is effectively Libya’s acting constitution, they were not allowed to present themselves as candidates. There could be court cases after the elections, he warned, to disbar any current members of Congress who were elected tomorrow.

A handful of Congress members of former members are standing although there has been a social media campaign to try and persuade voters to reject them.
The majority of members, however, seem to have been fully aware that they would have been courting humiliation by presenting themselves again, such is the general resentment against Congress over its perceived failings.
A small number of those who have been nominated for tomorrow’s poll do appear, however, to have reasonable chances of making it.
Former Zintan Congress members Abdussalam Nassiyah and Mohamed Betru are among them.
Zintan residents say they were fully satisfied with the pairs’ commitment to their constituents while in Congress. “They used to come to Zintan every Friday, updating us of what was going on in the Congress,” Zintan resident Masood told the Libya Herald.
Along with some 20 other members of Congress, the two resigned on 7 February, the date which many in Libya considered its mandate to operate to have ended. In Zintan, that view was widely accepted and both men acted in line with their constituents’ wishes.
“When we asked them to resign, they did so immediately,” said Masood.
They remain popular as a result, he insisted.
Former Nasiriyah Congressman Juma Sayah who is likewise standing for election to the House, points out that he too resigned when asked by his constituents. “I was the first to resign,” he told this newspaper. He was now responding to local demands that he stand again, he insisted.
“The people came to me and asked me to stand again because I had operated in the way they had expected me to do.”
He rejected the idea that Congress members should be prevented from standing again.
“If we try to exclude them, we’ll repeat the mistake of the Political Isolation Law,” he said. “People have a right to stand again.  It’s up to the voters to decide.  If they want them, they’ll vote for them. If they don’t, they’ll reject them.”
Another departing Congressman hoping to carve a niche for himself in the new House is the well-known Misrata Congressman and head of the Union for Homeland party,Abdurrahman Sewehli. Political observers in Misrata say he is expected to poll well, probably far better than in the 2012 Congressional elections.

“He has a very good chance of being elected again” said one Misrata journalist.
One current GNC member, Hay Andalus Congress member Hajer El-Gaid, may not fare so well. She is facing a strong resentment at her candidacy. Many local residents say they will not be voting for her again. “I think is better for her to find something else to do and forget about representing us again” Hay Andalus resident Mohamed Baden said.
Benghazi GNC member Mohamed Busidra, may also have an uphill struggle to get himself into the House. A member of a small Islamic group called “ Tabligh Dawa”, he failed to be elected at the elections for Congress two years ago and only managed to get in when he took the place of Abdelmonem Al-Waheyshi, who resigned after losing in the elections for the presidency of the GNC to Nuri Abu Sahmain.
Benghazi residents say that pro-Islamists in Benghazi will vote for him but their numbers are not thought to be large and in any event many are boycotting the contest.
Other GNC members hoping to continue their political careers in the House of Representatives include Sirte Justice & Construction Party member Amna Faraj Khalifa Emtair, and Obari independent Hussein Al-Ansari.

ELECTION 2014: Voting in Derna reported impossible

By Seraj Essul.
Tripoli, 24 June 2014:
The current security situation in Derna has made the prospect of holding tomorrow’s elections there impossible, an official in the town has said.
The official told the Libya Herald on condition of strict anonymity that there had been no campaigning in Derna and no publicity for elections to the House of Representatives and that, tomorrow, designated polling stations in the town would remain closed.
He said the head teachers of Derna’s schools had unanimously refused requests by the Higher National Elections Commission (HNEC) to use their schools as electoral centres. Five schools, to be used as polling stations, were bombed and one man killed in Derna ahead of February’s elections to the Constitutional Drafting Committee. Classes were cancelled in the aftermath of the attacks and the town was forced to pay for repairs to the schools in the absence of government funding.
The official said many in Derna could see little point to the elections in the face of the current security crisis. He said the candidates who were standing in the Derna sub constituency were not known in the town and added that the government had consistently refused to take responsibility for the town’s problems.
A resident in Derna, who also asked not to be named, said he had registered to vote but was well aware there would be no elections tomorrow. He said candidates had not been able to campaign because they would immediately become targets.
Another resident said he had not registered to vote and could not see the point given current conditions in the town.
Meanwhile, HNEC member Said Al-Gosbi said the organisation hoped elections would be able to proceed in Derna tomorrow and that technically the commission was prepared for voting there. He said, however, on the question of security in the town that this was out of their hands. He added that if voting did not go ahead in Derna tomorrow that elections would have to be held at a later date.
He said all but 16 of greater Derna’s roughly 50 polling centres had been supplied with elections materials and added that in the case of any security problems HNEC staff were under instructions to immediately close their polling centres. He said the safety of voters and elections’ staff was HNEC’s number one priority.

Ansar leader “not dead”

By Noura Ibrahim.
Benghazi, 24 June 2014:
Reports that the leader of Ansar Al-Sharia in Benghazi has died in Jelaa hospital have been denied by a medical official in the hospital.
Earlier in the day intelligence sources told the Libya Herald that it had been confirmed that Muhammad Al-Zahawi had died in the hospital after being badly injured yesterday in a bombing raid by Operation Dignity forces. The source said, however, that he could not say exactly where or when Zahawi was supposed to have been wounded.
A medical official at the hospital, however, said there was no truth to the story.  “When I heard the report, I checked out every room myself.  He is not here,” the official said
Rumours that a major Ansar figure was being treated in the hospital began to circulate yesterday when the Islamist militia moved in and took over security.  Some observers felt there was more to this than concern about protecting the hospital, especially since it left Ansar in an exposed position.
The militia was still providing protection at the hospital, the official said this evening.