The elections in Libya are increasingly uncertain in less than three weeks from the date of December 24, the day in which more than 2 million Libyans will vote for the future president and (perhaps) to renew the Parliament of 2014.

Diplomatic sources confirmed to Insideover that now, in order to understand how the new Libyan descourse will go, we need to wait for 10 December. For that day, however it goes, all the candidacies must be filed and, all appeals and counter-claims, the electoral campaign lasting at least two weeks must start. Otherwise, the vote will be automatically postponed for technical reasons.

In a few hours it will therefore be understood whether Libya can really go to the vote and with whom after the “battle” of the electoral appeals, which has seen some candidates playing dirty. However, the timing for the release of the official list of candidates depends on the next moves of the president of the High Electoral Commission, Imad al Sayeh.

 At the time of writing, it is underway in Qubbah, stronghold of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Agulah Saleh , a face to face meeting that could prove decisive.

Who are the candidates

No candidate had an easy way into the election. They all roughly had to face quite a few tragicomic episodes before seeing their name on the electoral roll. Starting with the son of Gaddafi . 

When he filed his quest at the constituency, Muammar’s political heir appeared on video in a traditional suit, a long beard and three fewer fingers on his right hand. We hadn’t seen himself in public for ten years, so his candidacy represented an important turning point in the electoral race. But there was no shortage of immediate appeals against him. 

Gaddafi is officially wanted by the International Criminal Court and this could make Libya, in the event of the election of the deceased dictator’s son, a president who will be unable to visit the West like the former Sudanese president Omar al Bashir .

Not only. Saif al Gaddafi was also sentenced to death in 2015 for his alleged role in the 2011 war , but received an amnesty from the Tobruk parliament. For days his lawyers were unable to file the appeal. Not for lack of arguments, but because of some militias linked to the army of General Khalifa Haftar,

They physically blocked the wayto lawyers in the Sebha court . Only on 2 December the appeal was filed and won, with Gaddafi officially (at the moment) admitted into the race.

Haftar presented the documentation in a Benghazi militarily controlled by him. It is difficult even to think that some Cyrenaica judge could put a spoke in the wheels of the strong man of Cyrenaica. 
A very strong candidacy would be that of the outgoing premier Ddedeiba .  But even that, there was no lack of appeals and twists. When the green light was given to the government he led, the premise was that no member of the executive should then stand for election. But the prime minister has become popular especially in the Greater Tripoli area , which boasts more voters and is likely to be decisive for the vote.

And in the end, every bureaucratic quibble was overcome. In truth, Ddedeiba should not have run for both, the position he held and the dual Canadian citizenship. Someone in the Libyan capital managed to file them, but they were for some reason rejected. 

After all, Haftar also has US citizenship and yet he was admitted to the game. Unclear rules and rules deriving from under-the-table agreements are creating various situations that are far from clear. However, it was to be expected. In Libya there is no state and therefore the real rule is that of the interests of the individual parties. 

Other important candidates are those of former Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga , and former Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmed Maitig. Both are from Misrata, like the outgoing premier. 

The candidacy of Aref Al Nayed should not be underestimated . There is also his signature among the plaintiffs against Ddedeiba. A native of Benghazi but belonging to the Warfalla tribe , the largest in Libya based in the west, Al Nayed nevertheless welcomed Ddedeiba’s admission to the electoral race with reconciling phrases. In total, there could be more than 90 candidates. But before you can have a complete picture, you have to wait for the date of December 10th.

The road to elections in Libya appears, as a frenetic race full of unexpected events. There is very little time available and the electoral process has been hampered by the so-called ” spoilers “, ie the forces that intend to spoil the stability. 

With the appeals phase closed and the list of participants announced, the electoral campaign should start lasting at least two weeks. That’s why December 10 is really the last useful date to avoid a postponement of the vote. It should also be emphasized that the way in which voting will take place is still not clear. 

The International Conference on Libya in Paris last 12 November reiterated in black and white the importance of holding free, fair, inclusive, credible and above all simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 December 2021.

Yet, according to the bizarre laws issued by the Houseof the Representatives, the vote will be “stew”, with a first round of the presidential elections on 24 December and a second round in mid-February in conjunction with the parliamentarian: a bit like playing the Champions League final in two halves, at a distance of almost two months from each other. Not exactly the best.

UN, out of the game?

All this while the United Nations no longer seems to touch the ball. UN envoy Jan Kubis  succeeded in the arduous undertaking of winning the coveted ” wooden spoon ” for worst special representative  by resigning from office on November 17. Already last August 27 on  Insideover  we predicted that the United Nations plan to bring Libya to the elections was leaking from all sides. Yet it didn’t take a glass ball. 

The mandate of Slovakian Kubis will cease completely as of 10 December and his replacement, British diplomat Nicholas Kay , has been blocked by Russia’s veto from the Security Council.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres played his last card by reinstating Stephanie Williams, a former interim UN envoy for Libya. Last night, in fact, the number one of the Glass Palace  nominated  the US diplomat as “special adviser for Libya”, a position that allows you to immediately take action and circumvent Moscow’s veto. Sources in Tripoli quoted by ” Agenzia Nova ” report that “most likely we are moving towards a postponement of elections which Williams will have to manage”.

Main sponsors behind the candidates

In a context such as the Libyan one, where international interests have been concentrated for a decade, it is reasonable to expect foreign involvement in the elections. That is, each international actor could in fact bet on its own candidate. 

Outgoing Prime Minister Ddedeiba seems to be getting many to agree. He is a moderate, he has shown government skills at least in Tripoli, he has good relations especially with Italy and Turkey , his election would not displease the US. 

There seems to be good harmony with Draghi, as demonstrated by the bilateral meeting held in the Libyan capital last April. An eventual victory for Saif Al Gaddafi would create some embarrassment in the West. US and France wouldn’t take it very well. Russia would be betting on him . When his candidacy was in doubt, it was from Moscow that urges came in his favor. Perhaps, but it is not certain, Saif would also have sponsors in the United Arab Emirates .

For its part, Paris could look favorably on the advance of Fathi Bashaga, with whom it has formed good relations especially in recent months. On the other hand, the one who seems to have run out of allies is Khalifa Haftar. 

The general has always moved autonomously, giving headaches in the past to his own sponsors, from France to Russia, passing through the Emirates. Perhaps only Egypt of  could support him, but the impression is that the creator of’ Operation Dignity is in deep trouble.

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