The High National Elections Commission (HNEC) will continue to consult with all parties and agencies concerned with the electoral process in order to remove the so-called force majeure factors that had led to the postponement of the 24 December 2021 elections.
This was the conclusion of yesterday’s day-long House of Representatives (HoR) session where the HNEC board, led by its head Emad Sayeh, faced questioning about the failure to hold the elections.
Relative to other questioning sessions, the session was not as polarised as it could have been. Under the more conciliatory Acting Speakership of Fawzi Nuwairi, the House was more sympathetic to HNEC.
Some members did attempt to politicise the session and attach blame squarely on HNEC, but Acting Speaker Nuwairi set the tone by saying HNEC came under the HoR’s authority and that the responsibility was a joint one.
Nuwairi said the session should focus on moving forward and steps needed to remove the force majeure causes that had led to the postponement of the elections.
Try as he did, neither he nor members could get Sayeh to name culprits by name. Nor could they get Sayeh to openly say that the 24 January was unrealistic or offer an alternative date. Sayeh was adamant that it was for others to remove the causes of the election’s postponement and only then could a new date be set.
Sayeh agreed to continue to consult with the HoR’s Election Committee, and after consultation, to come up with a new proposal, as soon as possible, to push the electoral process forward.
Sayeh seemed to still require amendments to what can critically be called Ageela Saleh’s Election Law. The HoR were adamant, however, that they had accepted most of his amendments.
Is the 24 January 2022 a realistic date for the elections?
In view of the causes cited by Sayeh as the causes of the postponement of the elections, as well as the causes not officially cited, such as the fact that Saif Qaddafi had been reinstated by the courts as a presidential candidate, it is highly unlikely that an election can be held by 24 January.
Moreover, Sayeh admitted that HNEC were surprised and overwhelmed by the number of candidates that had registered for both presidential and parliamentary elections. He said it was taking much longer to process and vet them.
Sayeh also pointed out that the court rulings overturning HNEC’s rejection of candidates had also now set legal precedents and that the HoR needed to take this into consideration going forward.