Libya extends voter registration by a week

2012-05-13 21:41

Tripoli - Libya on Sunday extended the deadline for voter registration by a week in a bid to broaden participation in the first national poll since the fall of slain leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

"We have decided to extend the period of registration for voters by a week, until May 21," said Nuri Abbar, head of the High National Electoral Commission, adding that the decision would not affect the timing of the vote.

The ruling National Transitional Council has pledged to hold elections for a 200-seat constituent assembly by June 19.

A total of 120 seats in the assembly are reserved for independent candidates, while the remaining 80 are open to political parties.

When elected, the assembly will appoint a new prime minister and cabinet.

It will also appoint a committee of experts to write a draft constitution which will then be submitted to a national referendum.

More than 1.5 million Libyans have registered to vote in the June elections for the General National Congress, Abbar told journalists in the capital.

But grievances over the electoral process have emerged in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi, where federalism backers urged a boycott of the vote.

Activists unhappy

"This [boycott] call has had no impact on voter registration and the electoral process," said Abbar.

Meanwhile, activists in the capital issued a statement urging a series of amendments to the electoral process and threatened to boycott the poll if their demands are not met.

"We will call for boycott of the elections in the event of the failure to respond to our rights and our legitimate demands," they said in statement.

The group is unhappy with the ratio of political parties versus independents in the assembly and the distribution of electoral districts in the capital.

It also wants every article of the constitution to be decided individually in the referendum instead of a wholesale yes-no vote on the charter.

The statement was backed by the Libyan Union for NGOs, which claims to group hundreds of members, and signed by Civil Society Tripoli.