Elections for a constituent assembly, originally set to be held by June 19 as Libya’s first such vote for four decades, are to be postponed, electoral commission members said on Saturday.
One commission member, on condition of anonymity, said the postponement until July or later had been decided for logistical reasons, mainly to allow time for appeals from candidates who had been ruled out of the contest.
“Several dates have been proposed, but most discussions are pointing to July 10,” the official said.
The chairman of the electoral commission, questioned by AFP, would say only that “an announcement will be made tomorrow (Sunday) at a news conference.”
Another member of the electoral commission said the postponement had been decided in consultation with UN officials working with the commission who had “proposed a date during the first week in July.”
“But if we are not ready by that date, the election will be postponed for the month of August also, until after Ramadan,” the Muslim holy fasting month which this year starts in late July, the official cautioned.
Rumours have abounded in the Libyan capital that the constituent assembly election will be put off, despite the authorities insisting it will go ahead on time, although no actual polling day has been announced.
More than 2.7 million Libyans, or around 80 percent of eligible voters, have registered to participate in what marks the first national poll after four decades of dictatorship under Moamer Kadhafi, toppled last year.
The ruling National Transitional Council, having declared the country’s “liberation” three days after the October 20 capture and killing of Kadhafi, launched a roadmap to a new Libya with a 20-month countdown to elections.
A transitional government was to organise within eight months the election of a 200-member assembly, or “general national congress.” The NTC is to step down once the congress holds its first session.
Dozens of parties have been founded in the months ahead of the election. On June 3, the commission instructed the 4,000 candidates who hope to run in the polls not to launch campaigning before a date is announced.
The Arab Spring upheavals have led to elections in which Islamists have emerged the big winners, with the same trend expected in Libya.