Keys To Libya’s Persistent Crisis

Libya’s December elections failed and since then the country is rapidly descending into a new political blockade that threatens the return of parallel administrations and an armed confrontation.

Instability and division between factions have ruled the country after a NATO-backed uprising removed long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, but last year a glimpse of hope was seen in the transfer of power to a new interim Government of National Unity (GNU).

Abdul Hamid Dbeibah was appointed in March 2021 as head of the United Nations-backed GNU and had to lead the country to national elections on December 24. After months of uncertainty, the electoral commission suggested they be pushed back and a parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing the process said it was impossible to hold the vote as originally planned.

The vote was then canceled amid disputes between factions on laws governing the poll and disagreements over the candidates.

Parallel Prime Minister

Last week, another transitional prime minister has been assigned by the eastern-Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR). Former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha has been appointed as the new prime minister, saying this decision followed Dbeibah’s failure to hold the polls and the expiration of GNU’s mandate. Bashagha has pledged “to open a new chapter” and “reach out to everyone”.

Bashagha is a powerful figure in western Libya and is believed to have links to armed militias in Misrata that played a key role in defending Tripoli against a 2019 military east-offensive led by military commander Khalifa Haftar.

internationally recognized prime minister Dbeibah, who this week survived an apparent assassination attempt, has rejected his replacement. He has said he would “accept no new transitional phase of parallel authority” and hand over power only to an elected government. He warned that the country could bounce back to “division and chaos”.

He also described the parliament’s move as an attempt to enter Tripoli by force and promised to draft a new electoral law to solve the political crisis. He told Libya Al Ahrar TV a bill would be presented to the House of Representatives and transferred to the presidential council for ratifying.

Also on Thursday 10, Parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, who was a presidential candidate and other east-based legislators, voted for a set of constitutional amendments that put forward a new plan to build a democratically elected government.

The amendments envisage the creation of a new electoral commission and the appointment of a 24-member committee, representing the country’s all three regions, to draft a new constitution.

If ever goes to plan elections could be held in June, the date the UN mission in Libya wants for a rescheduled vote.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called “all parties to continue to preserve stability in Libya as a top priority.” Guterres reminded “all institutions of the primary goal of holding national elections as soon possible”, saying he “takes note” of the Libyan parliament’s naming of the new prime minister.

Asked during a daily press briefing whether the UN continued to recognize Dbeibah as interim prime minister, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “the short answer is yes”. He added, however, that the UN’s special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, was “back in Tripoli, where she is engaging with critical stakeholders in Libya to facilitate an agreement on a path forward”.

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