IFES organized three simultaneous BRIDGE trainings (January 7-10, 2013) for civil society members and staff of the High National Electoral Commission in support of a peaceful and democratic political transition in Libya. Libyans voted in democratic elections in July 2012 following the end of the civil war and overthrow of the Gaddafi regime.While an elected General National Congress (GNC) has now replaced the National Transitional Council, the political situation remains highly fluid and it is uncertain whether further elections will be called for a constituent assembly or how a constitution and permanent structures of government will be formed. As of yet, basic security and policing remains in the hands of numerous armed groups and many government services have not yet re-started.
Training is particularly crucial at this stage because Libya’s experience with multi-party elections is so limited. Political parties were banned in Libya until 2011, and the elections were seen as the first peaceful transition of power in the country’s history. The workshop curriculum focused on basic elements of elections and political participation including international standards, electoral systems, and political contestants. The Module was customized and translated by the facilitation team in the days before the training.
The curriculum also aimed to build on the progress made by women in politics. The election for the 200 member GNC took place using a parallel system (Majoritarian – 120 seats, and Proportional – 80 seats) with a 50% quota for women candidates on closed party lists that resulted in the election of 33 women or 16.5% of the GNC. The facilitators hoped to further develop this progress by putting a special focus on gender throughout the training.
The three trainings were held simultaneously for 72 participants in total. Two sessions took place in the capital Tripoli, and one session took place in Sabha – the main city of the southern region. The facilitation team included Samia Mahgoub, Natia Kashakashvili, Bassam Alyaseri, Silja Paasilinna, Reem Ersheid, and Skye Christensen. IFES congratulates Silja Paasilinna on her accreditation as a workshop facilitator during the workshop.
Participant evaluations applauded the BRIDGE methodology, and the comparative nature of the curriculum. There was significant interest to learn more about many of the topics covered, particularly international standards, gender and elections, accessibility, public outreach, electoral systems, and political parties. Some CSOs also expressed the interest to know more about the NGOs role in electoral reform. IFES and other BRIDGE partners hope to provide more BRIDGE trainings in Libya in the years to come.