Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

UN gives Libyan rivals a week to agree on electoral framework

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, June 14th 2022 à 11:20 | Read 318 times

Stephanie Williams now wants results (photo: UNSMIL)
Stephanie Williams now wants results (photo: UNSMIL)
LIBYA. As the third and final round of negotiations between Libyan rivals takes place in Cairo from Sunday 12 June 2022 to Sunday 19 June 2022, the UN is pounding its fist on the table. "This latest round comes at a critical time for your country. After eleven long years of division, dysfunction, conflict and chaos, the Libyan people are exhausted," says Stephanie Williams. The UN Special Adviser on Libya gave the delegates present from the House of Representatives and the High Council of State a one-week deadline "to achieve the best possible positive outcome" in order to establish a constitutional framework for finally holding elections (presidential and parliamentary) in the country. The participants have been trying since 13 April 2022 and their first meeting to achieve this.

Scheduled for 24 December 2021, then postponed to 24 January 2022, the presidential election could never be held. The reason for this is the incompatibility of two laws governing the elections and the difficulty of validating certain candidates. 2.8 million Libyans are registered to vote. 

"My message is clear to the obstructionists and those who want to disrupt this delicate political process through the use of force, you must stop, and you must put down your guns and stop terrorising the civilian population ... enough is enough," says Stephanie Williams.

A Constitution to overcome the political impasse

In February 2022, a new Prime Minister, Fathi Bashagha (former Minister of the Interior), confirmed in March, was appointed by the House of Representatives sitting in Tobruk. But the current Prime Minister, Abdelhamid Dbeibeh, who has headed a government of national unity since March 2021, refuses to leave his post. He demands that his successor be appointed by a parliament resulting from a new legislative process.

On Saturday 11 June 2022, Abdelhamid Dbeibeh recalled, during a speech at the University of Misrata, "that it is possible to overcome this political impasse in Libya only through a constitution with clear contours and elections (...) the international community rejects any other solution and is now more inclined to the holding of elections considered as a unique and healthy option". The Prime Minister said he was "ready for the organisation of the elections", to the point of stating that detailed and fixed dates will be proposed soon.

The other prime minister, Fathi Bashagha, responded by tweeting that "a bunch of outlaws who impersonate someone other than themselves cannot be trusted to guarantee elections as they are unable to ensure the security and safety of citizens." He added that he had "preferred peace to fighting" and "extended our hands to all the protagonists while obtaining a Libyan-Libyan consensus between the Chamber of Deputies and the High Council of State", and that he wanted to "ensure the protection of civilians and guarantee the sacredness of Libyan blood. The lives of innocent people have become threatened because of the anarchy."

Resumption of armed conflict

This situation of political instability has lasted for three months; the two conflicting parties have even taken up arms, harking back to the dark days of the civil war and the partition of the country between East and West. Clashes between two militias (one in favour of Fathi Bashagha and the other in favour of Abdelhamid Dbeibeh) took place again in the Libyan capital on the night of Friday 10 to Saturday 11 June 2022.

Calling on the belligerents to lay down their arms, Williams accused "certain troublemakers" of trying to destabilise the ongoing talks. "Your fellow Libyans are watching you, looking forward to tangible results: a firm and consensual constitutional basis that will pave the way for transparent elections to be held in the shortest possible time," the special adviser insists.

"Security cannot be restored and peace cannot be stabilised without the presence of a state, whose authorities enjoy constitutional and legal legality and this encourages us to move forward on the path of organising parliamentary and presidential elections," said Fathi Bashagha on Saturday 11 June 2022.

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