Address of the United Nations presented by Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Deputy head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and Resident Coordinator, on the opening of polling phase at the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) Media Centre Opening in Tripoli, Saturday 21 June 2014:
Thank you for the invitation to speak at this important event, which marks the start of the polling phase in the Council of Representatives election. I am pleased to be here representing the United Nations.
The UN has long experience in supporting elections, and we have learned that although polling day is the most visible part of an election, elections themselves are a process rather than an event.
Therefore, I would first like to commend all parties for their hard work over past months in order to put in place the conditions necessary to hold polling.
These include: the GNC; the High National Elections Commission; the government including the Ministries of Education, Communications, Defence and Interior; candidates; civil society; and of course voters.
Going to the polls is always an important endeavour requiring substantial work, but in the view of the UN this election is particularly important as it comes at a pivotal time.
It was over three years ago that the revolution started. The transition has taken longer than expected. However, each step remains important in establishing the direction the country will eventually head in.
It is therefore critical that that each Libyan has a say and a stake in the new Libya through inclusive and participatory elections.
Accordingly, I congratulate the GNC, HNEC, media, candidates and civil society for implementing measures to promote inclusive participation and informed decision-making. For instance, by registering an additional 470,000 voters on top of those registered for the last election, publishing all candidates’ biographies online and providing airtime for candidates wishing to state their platforms.
Despite this important progress, we must recognize that this election will encounter challenges. This is a sensitive period in Libya’s history. Despite the efforts of many actors to provide adequate space for polling to go forward successfully, there remain political obstacles, security obstacles, and operational obstacles. It does no good to pretend that at a time like this the road ahead will not have bumps.
It is for this reason that the UN continues to offer its support in accordance with the mandate set out by the UN Security Council.
At the technical level, the UN provides day-to-day advice on electoral issues. Through the UN Development Programme we assist in procurement of sensitive materials such as ballots and indelible ink.
Our partners, the International Organization for Migration, are delivering Out of Country Voting that starts tomorrow.
In addition, we are also working closely with Libyan partners to deliver sessions to candidates on their rights and obligations.
Finally, after this election is over, we will continue to extend support and assistance to the next stage of Libya’s transition.
Though the UN is pleased to support you in this journey, ultimately the journey belongs to you and to your fellow citizens.
Libyans through their actions during the coming days will have the chance to decide the direction of that journey and shape the future of their country.
Polling starts tomorrow in 13 countries and will continue here in Libya on Wednesday.
I urge all men and women to take this opportunity to have their say by casting a ballot.