Libya faces daunting task of vetting candidates

2012-05-18 09:59

Tripoli - Libya faces the daunting task of vetting thousands of candidates wishing to compete in June elections for a constituent assembly, with several bodies involved in the process.

"If a person committed a criminal offence or had ties to the former regime he is excluded," Al-Taher Qraf, the deputy head of the electoral commission said on Thursday, the final deadline for candidates to register.

Libyans are on track to vote for a 200-member constituent assembly in June. A total of 120 seats are reserved for independent candidates and the remaining 80 open to political parties.

Qraf said candidates are being carefully screened to exclude people with known mental health issues, invalid national identity papers, ties with the previous regime or blood on their hands.

The electoral commission's latest figures put the number of individual candidates vying for a spot in the assembly at 2 119, including 59 women.

As of Wednesday, more than 136 political entities had put forward 517 candidates, 226 of whom were women.

Interim government spokesperson Nasser al-Manaa said all candidates will be vetted by the interior and defence ministries to assure they have no criminal record and that they are not active in the army.

Qraf said the entire screening process would take another two weeks.

The main vetting body is the Integrity and Patriotism Commission.

The integrity commission

"The volume is huge but we are working day and night so elections are held on time," its spokesperson Omar al-Habbasi told AFP.

Habbasi said his team has reviewed more than 600 files to date.

The integrity commission's mandate is to bar people who stood against the 17 February revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi or who backed the previous regime.

Its regulation excludes members and leaders of institutions active during Gaddafi’s government, including the revolutionary guards, revolutionary committee and student associations.

Those involved in crimes, including torture, and those who had commercial ties with Gaddafi’s clan or stole public funds are also barred from office.

The ruling National Transitional Council has pledged to hold the elections by 19 June, which would give candidates who get the green light roughly a fortnight to conduct their campaigns.

About three million Libyans have registered to participate in what marks the first national poll after four decades of dictatorship under Gaddafi, who was toppled and a killed in a popular revolt last year.