Libya’s peace remains fragile as election disputes defy resolution

Libya’s peace stays fragile as election disputes defy decision

DUBAI: Libya occupies a delicate place for the safety of Arab and European nations and in managing the Mediterranean area’s migration flows. But a street map for the restoration of the oil-rich nation’s safety and stability continues to elude the worldwide neighborhood. 

Libya’s first presidential election because the overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 was attributable to happen on Dec. 24, amid hopes of lastly unifying the war-torn North African nation after years of bitter upheaval.

Nonetheless, simply two days earlier than the UN-sponsored polls have been attributable to open, the vote was postponed amid logistical hurdles and ongoing authorized wrangling over election guidelines and who’s permitted to face.

Libya’s electoral board referred to as for the election to be postponed for a month, till Jan. 24, after a parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing the method mentioned it will be “unimaginable” to carry the vote as initially scheduled.

Even now, 10 days into the brand new yr, it’s unclear whether or not the election will go forward in any respect. Many concern that the delicate peace within the nation might collapse if disputes over the election aren’t resolved shortly. 

Any additional delay would deal a major blow to the worldwide neighborhood’s hopes of reunifying the nation.

“This can be a crucial second for Libya and the indications are growing, daily, that we’re working out of time to have a free and truthful election,” Ben Fishman, a senior fellow on the Washington Institute for Close to East Coverage, advised Arab Information.

“The a number of courtroom circumstances in opposition to main candidates has restricted the marketing campaign season. This all exhibits that these elections aren’t being run on an agreed constitutional foundation. Extra time is required to resolve elementary points, not simply on who is ready to run but in addition on what the powers of the president will likely be.”



With out an settlement regarding these powers, Fishman mentioned, the election might lead to an “growing recipe for extra polarization, in addition to an growing potential for extra violence and never much less.”

One notably controversial candidate to emerge forward of the vote is Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of Muammar Qaddafi and a robust contender for the presidency.

On Nov. 24, a courtroom dominated him ineligible to run. His attraction in opposition to the choice was delayed for a number of days when armed militiamen blocked the courtroom. On Dec. 2, the ruling was overturned, clearing the best way for him to face.

A handout image launched by the Libyan Excessive Nationwide Fee on Nov. 14, 2021, exhibits Seif Al-Islam Qaddafi (proper) registering as presidential candidate. (AFP/Libyan Excessive Nationwide Electoral Comission)

A Tripoli courtroom sentenced Qaddafi to demise in 2015 for conflict crimes dedicated through the battle to delay his father’s 40-year rule within the face of the 2011 NATO-backed rebellion. Nonetheless, he was granted an amnesty and launched the next yr by the UN-backed authorities. He stays a figurehead for Libyans nonetheless loyal to the federal government of his father.

Qaddafi is just not the one divisive candidate. Subject Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who in September briefly suspended his command of the Tobruk-based Libyan Nationwide Military to run for workplace, additionally faces authorized proceedings for alleged conflict crimes.

Khalifa Haftar submits paperwork for his candidacy for the Libyan presidential election on the Excessive Nationwide Election Fee in Benghazi on Nov. 16, 2021. (AFP)

In response to Jonathan Winer, a scholar on the Center East Institute and a former US particular envoy for Libya, the possibilities of success for the election have been severely undermined from the start when the Libyan Home of Representatives devised the principles.

“These elections have grow to be more and more chaotic,” he mentioned. “The method over who will get disqualified and who doesn’t is, at the least, considerably flawed, imperfect, and with so many candidates the concept anybody would get a majority is ludicrous — nobody will get a majority.”

Given the continuing disputes, Dalia Al-Aqidi, a senior fellow on the Middle for Safety Coverage, believes even Jan. 24 is overambitious for a rescheduled vote. 

“Regardless of all the continual requires the significance of holding the Libyan presidential elections to assist the nation to cross to security and forestall a brand new wave of violence, the potential for this occurring is slim as a result of lack of settlement between the main key gamers, divisions on the bottom, and overseas interference,” Al-Aqidi mentioned.

“Holding elections in January is a tough process since not one of the obstacles that led to suspending the electoral course of have been addressed or handled by native leaders nor the worldwide neighborhood.

“Lower than one month is just not sufficient time to unravel all the problems that prevented the Libyans from casting their votes and that features the battle over the nomination of candidates.”


Factions proceed to disagree over fundamental electoral guidelines and who can run for workplace.

Parliamentary committee mentioned it will be “unimaginable” to carry the vote as scheduled.

Al-Aqidi is anxious that factional combating might resume if overseas interference continues. “The chance of violence and chaos could be very excessive, particularly with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts within the nation attributable to its loss in every single place else within the area,” she mentioned. 

“The group, which is supported by Turkey, is Libya as a substitute for Tunisia, which was its final stronghold.”

The Washington Institute’s Fishman additionally doubts the election will happen later this month, however stays cautiously optimistic {that a} critical uptick in violence might be averted if dialogue continues.

“It seems now that a direct menace of violence is much less doubtless as completely different actors are speaking about subsequent steps,” he mentioned. “Due to these talks, the date is prone to be prolonged past late January, and even a number of months after.

“The worldwide neighborhood ought to assist these inner Libyan talks and UN-brokered dialog and never take a selected place proper now on the timing of elections till a greater consensus is extra clear.”

The appointment on Dec. 7 of Stephanie Williams as UN particular adviser on Libya provides some hope of getting the method again on observe. Williams led the talks that resulted within the October 2020 ceasefire in Libya.

“She’s deeply immersed within the points and is aware of all of the events, and might hopefully pull a rabbit out of a hat and do what her predecessor was not capable of do and provide you with a sport plan and a timeline,” mentioned Fishman.

Stephanie Williams, UN particular adviser on Libya. (AFP)

The street to the presidential election in Libya was by no means going to be straightforward. In August 2012, after the autumn of Muammar Qaddafi, the rebel-led Nationwide Transitional Council handed energy to an authority generally known as the Normal Nationwide Congress, which was given an 18-month mandate to determine a democratic structure.

Instability continued, nevertheless, together with a string of main terrorist assaults focusing on overseas diplomatic missions. In September 2012, an assault on the US consulate in Libya’s japanese metropolis of Benghazi left US ambassador Chris Stevens and three different Individuals lifeless.

Responding to the menace, Haftar launched an offensive in opposition to armed teams in Benghazi in Could 2014. He named his forces the Libyan Nationwide Military.

Smoke rise in Tajoura, south of Tripoli, following an airstrike on the Libyan capital by forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Haftar someday in mid-2019. (AFP file picture)

Elections have been held in June 2014, ensuing within the eastern-based parliament, the Home of Representatives, which was dominated by anti-Islamists. In August that yr, nevertheless, Islamist militias responded by storming Tripoli and restoring the GNC to energy.

The Haftar-affiliated Home of Representatives took refuge within the metropolis of Tobruk. Because of this, Libya was divided, left with two governments and two parliaments.

In December 2015, after months of talks and worldwide strain, the rival parliaments signed an settlement in Morocco establishing a Authorities of Nationwide Accord. In March 2016, GNA chief Fayez Al-Sarraj arrived in Tripoli to put in the brand new administration. Nonetheless, the Home of Representatives didn’t maintain a vote of confidence within the new authorities and Haftar refused to acknowledge it.

In January 2019, Haftar launched an offensive in oil-rich southern Libya, seizing the capital of the area, Sabha, and one of many nation’s important oilfields. In April that yr he ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli.

By the summer time, nevertheless, after Turkey deployed troops to defend the administration in Tripoli, the 2 sides had reached a stalemate.

A UN-brokered ceasefire was lastly agreed in Geneva on Oct. 23, 2020. It was adopted by an settlement in Tunis to carry elections in December 2021.

A Libyan man registers to vote inside a polling station in Tripoli on November 8, 2021. (AFP)

A provisional Authorities of Nationwide Unity, headed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, was authorised by lawmakers on March 10, 2021. On September 9, nevertheless, Aguila Saleh, the speaker of Libya’s parliament, ratified a legislation governing the presidential election that was seen as bypassing due course of and favoring Haftar.

Subsequently, the parliament handed a vote of no-confidence within the unity authorities, casting the election and the hard-won peace into doubt.

Even when an election does happen in January, Libya nonetheless has an extended method to go earlier than a secure administration is shaped and a sustainable peace is achieved.


Twitter: @rebeccaaproctor

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