By Daniel J. Graeber

Rights group says general elections can’t take place this year in the fractured political landscape.

Oil-rich Libya is risking economic opportunities with its fractured political landscape, Human Rights Watch said in calling for improvements.

Libya fractured along multilateral lines in the wake of civil war in 2011 that culminated with the death of long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi. After general elections in 2014, the country was split with two governments vying for control.

“Armed groups have, since then, kidnapped, arbitrarily detained, tortured, forcibly disappeared, and killed thousands of people, with impunity,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement Wednesday. “The protracted conflicts have decimated the economy and public services, and internally displaced 165,000 people.”

Last week, the U.N. Support Mission in Libya expressed concern about ongoing violence in the southern city of Sabha, saying the conflict was putting the nation’s infrastructure at risk.

General elections are scheduled for this year, though Human Rights Watch said free and fair elections are unlikely in the current environment.

U.N. Special Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler said last year that Libyan oil production was on a clear road to recovery and the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State, or Daesh, was a shadow of its former self. Nevertheless, the “fundamentals of the Libyan economy remain flawed,” and general financial instability was an obstacle to reconstruction.

In January, the head of Libya’s National Oil Corp., Mustafa Sanalla, said production was linked to the nation’s recovery. Last week, he said any interruptions to NOC operations would be prosecuted.

Economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Libyan production is near 1 million barrels per day. It ground to a halt in the wake of the fall of Gadhafi’s government.


Daniel J. Graeber has been a contributor to the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions series since its inception, writing on war crimes and international law. He has focused considerably on the legal aspects concerning the U.S.-led “war on terror” and various war crimes tribunals.


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