Libya Tribune

By Hugo Flotat-Talon

The UN announces the organization of elections within eighteen months in Libya. But the obstacles remain numerous.

The 75 delegates gathered in Tunisia must name the members of a presidential council and the head of a unified transitional government, which will have to organize elections.

Elections in Libya to pacify the country after nearly ten years of conflict. They were announced this Wednesday (12.11.2020) by the UN. An announcement while political discussions are held in Tunisia all week.

The two main camps clashing on the ground, the Government of National Unity (GNA) in Tripoli and General Khalifa Haftar’s camp in the east, are gathered at the same table.

These elections must be held within eighteen months. They are announced as ” credible, fair, inclusive and free” by the UN envoy to Libya. Stephanie Williams is very optimistic. “This is the best opportunity to end the divisions,” she said.

An announcement not new

“The announcement of elections is important because the Libyans want to choose their representatives”, also confirms Roumiana Ougartchinska, journalist specializing in Libya and author of the book “For the skin of Gaddafi” in 2013.

They no longer want leaders to be chosen by foreign powers, or in the corridors or reception rooms of luxurious hotels, whether in Tunis, Morocco or Geneva,” she explains.

But Roumiana Ougartchinska reminds us: such announcements have already taken place in the past. In 2018 or even 2019… Without real action thereafter.

The format proposed today, general elections, with legislative and presidential elections, also leaves some skeptics.

“For example, the post of president does not exist in the constitutional documents of the moment.

We therefore want to create a strong executive, whereas it is a country which is very fragile, very polarized” , explains Jalel Harchaoui, researcher at the Dutch Institute for International Relations, specialist in Libya.

“If the United States does not manage to live well the presidential election, I do not see why Libya would live it well”, he continues.

The researcher wants to be very cautious about the announcements of the UN. “Eighteen months is just an order of magnitude. It’s more than a single year, which would be too short, less than two years, which would be too far … So we say eighteen months, that serious fact “, he believes before adding:: ” Maybe it will happen, but just hearing it today can not reassure “.

Foreign forces still present

On the ground, the oil blockade was lifted at the end of September. A ceasefire was also signed at the end of October, along with other measures.

“It is a start, obligatory to organize elections,” comments Roumiana Ougartchinska. But, using the recent words of German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass, Jalel Harchaoui speaks of “deceptively calm” .

He cites the withdrawal of combatants from the front lines, the demilitarization of Sirte, the departure of foreign mercenaries. “All of this was not done,” he insists .

“Maybe tomorrow it will be done, it is possible that it will work, but today nothing guarantees that the UN will succeed in moving forward, even if it is optimistic,” Jalel Harchaoui still thinks.

The forces of the Government of National Unity also warned this Thursday against the risks of seeing the ceasefire agreement broken. 

In the meantime, political discussions are continuing in Tunis. Negotiations with military officials from the two rival camps are taking place at the same time in Libya, in Sirte.

But the political or cultural divisions of society between the two parts of the country have not disappeared. The thousands of foreign military advisers and fighters either.

Russian or Turkish support which seems irremovable, maintains the balance of forces on the ground and does not work in favor of the national unity desired by the UN.

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New elections in Libya expected within 18 months

By Nathan Morley

The UN Support Mission in Libya has said the country’s warring sides have agreed to hold elections within 18 months.

Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to the warring parties to work for an agreement that will finally bring peace and stability to the long-suffering nation.

The breakthrough came at the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum taking place in Tunis:

After the signing of a permanent countrywide cease-fire agreement last month in Geneva, this latest development provides more hope that the country is on the path to normality.

Representatives of the internationally recognized Libyan government and Khalifa Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) made the announcement at a United Nations sponsored Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Tunisia.

The dialogue was established by the Berlin Conference Outcomes, and endorsed by the UN Security Council.

A new roadmap addresses the problems of displaced people and tackles the steps needed to be taken for a unified governance framework and to initiate reconciliation.

Prior to the recent ceasefire, the conflict had been especially violent. Libya has been dogged by war since the ouster and killing of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Since then, it is estimated that around 400,000 Libyans have been displaced.

In a separate development, more than 100 migrants were rescued from a sinking boat off the coast of Libya on Wednesday. According to reports, a six-month-old baby died onboard a rescue ship soon after he and his mother had been plucked from the water.

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