By Jonathan M. Winer
The coming year will test whether the Libyan people will insist that the country move beyond its frustratingly limited transitional institutions to a more permanent, constitution-based government.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) established under UN and international auspices three years ago was supposed to act as a one-year bridge to enable Libyans to agree on a permanent government more capable of securing stability and opportunity for the country’s 6.5 million people.
Since then, political actors who have gained wealth and power by exploiting the status quo under the GNA have staved off efforts by UN Special Representative to the Secretary General Ghassan Salamé to implement a road-map that begins with a national conference followed by set dates for a referendum on the constitution and elections.
For Salamé to have any chance to succeed, key foreign actors must get their Libyan clients to agree to allow democratic processes to work.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the head of Libya’s central bank, Sadek al-Kabir, could help Libya by repricing the Libyan dinar to a floating rate, eliminating the black market, and putting into place mechanisms (such as making all salary payments direct to individuals with national IDs) that limit the exploitation of patronage networks, including by militia leaders.
Markers of whether things are on track will begin with early scheduling of the national conference, no later than March; inclusive Libyan participation in that conference; agreement by the Libyan House of Representatives to schedule votes enabling Libyans to choose their future, with concrete dates; and those dates not slipping the way they did throughout 2018.
Jonathan M. Winer – MEI Scholar
Source: “2019 Middle East preview: Key trends, events, and policies to watch” by Paul Salem, Charles Lister, Robert S. Ford, Ahmad Majidyar, Alex Vatanka, Gerald M. Feierstein, Mirette F. Mabrouk, Nathan Stock, Gönül Tol, Jonathan M. Winer, Marvin G. Weinbaum