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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

A coalition of civil society organizations from across Libya has launched the Shahed Network for election observation, the first citizen election monitoring effort ever attempted in the country.

At an April 23 press conference, the network announced its plans to recruit and train observers to monitor all aspects of the June 19 polls for a constituent assembly known as the National Public Conference. The group is working to deploy observers for voter registration in early May. Its goal is to recruit and train observers who will be present in 1,500 polling stations across Libya, for both voter registration and on election day.

“Our witnessing of this process will provide citizens with confidence in their democratic elections,” said Abdul Karim Mahamed, chairman of the Shahed Network. “We look forward to the full cooperation of electoral bodies, political entities, candidates, security forces, civil society and the international community in the pursuit of peaceful and credible elections.”

Civil society groups have proliferated during the political transition underway in Libya since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in October. Many of them were created during last year's conflict to provide humanitarian assistance, and they are now hoping to contribute to a fair and transparent election process. In March, NDI convened 32 of these groups representing eight cities across the country for a conference on citizen election observation. Many of the network's leaders attended the conference.

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Published April 26, 2012