At the occasion of the upcoming Libyan presidential elections, the Libyan Commission on Presidential Debates (LCPD) will organize debates between candidates for the first and second rounds. All Libyan public and private audiovisual media can broadcast these debates freely. The LCPD commits to providing a “clean feed” to any and all audiovisual media for this purpose.
The following overriding principles will guide the organization of the Commission:
- Equality of opportunity among candidates;
- Transparency in all of the Commission’s proceedings and choices related to the planning and organization of the debates;
In the debates, the following rules will apply:
- All organization procedures, in relation to anything that may favor a candidate over another, will be subject to sortition, in the presence of a certified notary public.
- For the first round, candidates will be divided into equal groups based on their numbers according to the official electoral list.. Each group will comprise no more than ten candidates.
- All candidates will receive a formal invitation to participate in the debates within 24 hours following the publication of the final presidential candidates list.
- The LCPD’s technical choices will be set in advance in accordance with the principle of achieving equality of opportunity and will be communicated publicly as well as to candidates.
- The LCPD will publicly solicit journalists to moderate the debates. These journalists must conform to the following criteria:
- Libyan nationals with a professional background of work in media (television, radio, print, online) who have cultivated a record of unwavering journalistic integrity and non-partisanship;
- Journalists must be highly knowledgeable about key issues of common concern to Libyan citizens;
- Journalists must have no previous record of using hate speech.
- Never occupied the function of a government or security forces spokesperson.
By participating in the debates, all candidates commit to the rules outlined here.
The journalists appointed to conduct the debates shall comply with the following:
o Informing the candidates and the audience of the debate rules.
o Maintaining professional decorum and an appropriate degree of deference to the candidates;
o Impartiality in the way questions are asked and the debate is managed, including non-verbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions;
o Strict adherence to the editorial structure, and particularly the common questions, defined by the LCPD;
o Obligating candidates to respect individual freedoms, not to use any discourse that may be defamatory, discriminatory, or stirring up hatred.
o Encouraging candidates to answer the questions rather than digress;
o Obligating candidates to respect their allocated time.
The following basic editorial model will apply to all presidential debates. A separate briefing will be published with further details, notably the wording of common questions that will be asked during the debates:
1. Common questions
All candidates in a given debate will answer a series of common questions, defined in advance by the LCPD. They will have 90 seconds to do so. The formulation of the common questions by the journalist will be exactly the same for each candidate.
2. Follow-up question
Following the response of a candidate to the common question, the debate moderator will pose a follow-up question to allow the candidate to clarify their answer. If the candidate did not answer the question or did so only partly, the moderator may repeat the common question. The candidate will have 30 seconds to answer the follow-up question.
3. Right of response
Candidates who are personally challenged by other candidates have a right of rebuttal.
Each candidate will have the right, up to twice during each debate, to directly address another candidate. Candidates who do not make use of this right will not be allocated additional time compared to candidates who do.
5. Final statements
At the end of each debate, each candidate will have 99 seconds for a closing statement to the Libyan people. In this round, no further interaction will be allowed between candidates. The formulation of this question will be the same for all debates, and will be published in advance.
6. Show of hands
Following the closing statements, candidates will be asked for a show of hands regarding the following two questions, to be read precisely by the moderator as follows:
Following each of these questions, all candidates will be shown on the screen. No further candidate statements or comments will be allowed.
All candidates will be notified in advance of the dates of the debates.
Candidates and their campaign representatives may submit questions to the LCPD via email@example.com. The questions will be anonymized and answered in a document that will be published on the LCPD’s website and its social media accounts.
In case a candidate declines to take part in a debate in the first or second round of the Presidential elections, or in case they withdraw after having given their approval without reasonable cause, their decision to decline or absence will be announced by the moderator, and the candidate will be represented by an empty podium. The empty podium with the candidate’s name shall be shown at the beginning of the program for exactly two seconds. It will also be visible in case the absent candidate is mentioned by another candidate, as well as during the show of hands segments.
The LCPD encourages media to commit to not rebroadcasting the debates, neither in full or partially, after they have aired.
Soritition proceedings shall be jointly supervised by the LCPD, HNEC and a notary public. A video of the proceedings shall be made available for the public.