By Fathi Al-Fadali
It should be noted that the call for elections in Libya has rattled the Libyan political scene, and succeeded in shaking up political bodies in decision-making positions in the Libyan arena.
Therefore, the question is, will the elections help fade the crisis, or will it plunge the country into further turmoil?
The two conclusions are possible, considering the mess Libya is going through in all spheres, including security situations.
The chaos was caused by the “counter-revolution”, which was reflected in several issues, including the displaced people’s crisis, the siege on Derna, the ongoing fighting, the political division, the high prices accompanied by the lack of cash, the weak Libyan Dinar, the international intervention, the violation of the country’s sovereignty, and the illegal migration, in addition to the ambitions of many countries in our homeland, besides other conflicts, problems and crises.
Despite the complicated and troubled scene at the local, regional and international level, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya called for elections, yet this call created mixed reactions and contradictory perceptions in terms of its timing, credibility and questions over its ability in resolving the situation.
The responses to this call amid these circumstances have varied from optimism, hope and pleasure, to fear, doubts, uncertainty, reservations, beside others who were caught by surprise, though each of these reactions have underlying causes.
The Libyans hope that the elections will shake off those who are clinging to their seats despite failing in leading the country out of its current impasse.
However, even though the suspicion and doubt by some, over the timing of the elections, others seem to be optimistic about this step, but they are more like someone who is clutching at a straw in the middle of the sea, so sooner or later he is doomed to drowning.
Today, we stand before two possibilities:
The first is that the call of holding new elections may be substantive at this critical juncture.
But there’s a big “if” here, considering if the elections were to be held under international monitoring, and regulated by an election law.
And if it will be conducted after the referendum on the Constitution.
And if the constitution includes the functions of the president and members of parliament, criteria for applying for candidature, and the form of the state, and etc.
And if the candidates are guaranteed that they will have the time, the means and the adequate protection to present themselves to the people, including the public definition, financial viability and competencies, the contributions they have made in serving the nation, and in regard to their orientations and visions on putting the country back on its feet.
With such conditions and specifications, elections could be a useful tool for positive change.
But what if there was fraudulent elections, or some kind of a political settlement under the cover of the elections, or any other scenario, which appears on the surface to be in the benefit of the country, but underneath, God knows what the purpose is, the elections, in this case, will be a threat, and the state will descend into chaos.
Apparently, the call for elections is in fact a formal diplomatic declaration of the failure of the Skhirat agreement, which is already dead, yet waiting to be buried.
But the reason that makes the Security Council press ahead with this agreement is that it meets the interest of the international community and the veto-wielding members of the Security Council, including fighting illegal immigration, achieving economic interests, and fighting terrorism (although this term is used for political purposes) by countries that did not hide their territorial appetites, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
As for the interests of Libya and the Libyans – including security and political stability, obviously, those aspects were not the concern of this agreement, instead, they were left to the Circumstances, clashes, amendments, interpretations, and to those who will prevail in the political and military conflict.
Since we are talking about the coming elections, we cannot possibly ignore the so-called Dignity Operation supporters, who at first adopted strongly the mandate option, along the same lines of the Sisi scenario, before suddenly retreating on the matter.
The pro-Haftar supporters issued a statement during which they declared a freeze on the mandate process.
It is clearly apparent that the so-called Dignity camp is rejecting the results of the elections in advance, despite its declaration of acceptance.
This could easily be read in their released statement regarding the freezing of the “delegation”.
Including the word “temporary” in their statement means that the mandate will be frozen temporarily, which implies that the mandate option is still in place, depending on the outcomes of the elections.
If the results were in favour of their camp (Dignity, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) all will go well, but if things did not work out as they wished, they will stick to the mandate option.
Therefore – they are rejecting the elections by refusing the results in advance, and thus refusing democracy, and the peaceful exchange of power, moreover, they are rejecting all peaceful solutions.
Alternatively, they are trending towards militarizing the state by using military persons in civilian suits supported by regional powers that are biased to a party at the expense of the other.
The 17th February party along with the supporters of the civil state, and the patriots in general, face a challenging scene today.
The situation of the country is continuing to deteriorate on all fronts, especially the security aspect, while the Skhirat agreement lost its sacrosanct and is now prone to everything (manipulation, modification, replacements, or it might be harnessed in a negative manner or even frozen, etc.).
The Dignity camp is misleading the Libyans and the international community.
It declares that it accepts the election option, and at the same time, it threatens to adopt the mandate option.
The Dignity side even carried out assassinations against whoever dared to run for elections from outside their camp, such as the assassination attempt that took place in Abyar town and the other in Benghazi.
Pro-Gaddafi regime activists are also massing their supporters to take part in the elections after declaring their acceptance of the process, even though they have been “huffing and puffing and huffing and puffing” for over four decades to convince us that representation is a quackery, and that the elections are used to deceive people and so on, in an attempt to demonise the democratic mechanism, in addition to all that, the absence of the constitution and the election law.
So whether elections are a way out or a threat, the 17 February party and supporters of the civil state should not leave the arena for other players.
On the contrary, they must strongly participate in the elections, and be at the fore of the scene.
They must also register on the electoral roll so they will have the right to accept, or protest against, or to amend the electoral system, including holding a referendum on the constitution before the elections.
Your voice may be heard if you were among the voters, but definitely, no one will listen to you if you choose to stay out of the scene.
I encourage all patriots, qualified, and honest people to stand for elections and not walk away, though the lack of participation in the past elections may be justified theoretically.
The deadlock we have reached stems from the retreat of the patriots and honest segment who left the stage to the mentalities of which the least I could say about them, that they are culturally, politically and socially disabled.
Not only that, the 17 February party and supporters of the civil state should be a key part of all future benefits including amendments, conferences, dialogues, negotiations or else, which promotes the interest of our homeland.
Fathi Al-Fadali, Libyan writer and political analyst.