Abdullah Al-Kabir, a Libyan writer 

Some analysts and observers of the Libyan issue have noticed the sudden amendment made by Aqila Saleh to the President’s Elections Law, regarding the minimum age for a candidate, and reducing it from 40 years to 35.

At the time, suspicions went that the reason for this amendment was to allow one of Haftar’s sons to run for the elections, because most of the terms of candidacy were designed to nominate Haftar and prepare the way for his victory, and if any unexpected development occurred and Haftar was excluded or refrained, his son would run in his place.

This amendment was not a desire or a suggestion from the MPs, but rather a suggestion by the High National Elections Commission, which during the time of mobilization for the elections, turned as a destination to the western ambassadors, and the MPs did not hesitate to approve or amend the last version of the law, which may a major active country was behind it, for the purpose of pushing a new candidate from outside the well-known political and military blocs.

But opinion polls do not indicate the possibility of winning a candidate other than the well-known controversial names. How can the voters be persuaded of an unknown figure who has no chance of competing with senior figures, and then this non-controversial  candidate will not be the dark horse in these elections?

But pushing an unknown, non-controversial figure is possible if things go towards establishing a new political agreement, as happened in the Skhirat Agreement, no one expected Fayez Al-Sarraj to be chosen as president, and the same thing was repeated in the Geneva Agreement through the list of Menfi and Dbeibah.

One of the contingency scenarios, after the postponement of the elections became likely, is to go to another political settlement by forming a new government that includes all parties, and obtains local and international acceptance comparable to what the current government enjoys.

As usual, the UN mission, with the active countries behind it, supervises the formation of this government through the Political Dialogue Forum, or from the candidates after a first round of elections, the results of which are expected to be close due to the large number of applicants, with the exception of the most fortunate names, which do not exceed five, most notably the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, Abdel Hamid Dbeibah and Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi.

The controversy over the legality of the Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibah’s candidacy to run in the competition is heading towards the formation of a wide bloc of candidates to face him as the expected winner, after judicial appeals failed to expel him. Therefore, the map of alliances will change sharply in order to achieve a missing balance with him.

As for Saif  Al-Islam Gaddafi, given the strict Western stance in excluding him, and this may be done accidentally through judicial appeals. If he bypasses the appeals and returns to the race, the path will change towards a political settlement that will not enable him to play an influential role, or the election law will be re-drafted to invalidate his candidacy, as the US-British position did not leave any room for the possibility of accepting him in a leadership position that would force them to deal with him.

The point is that the intensity of the international and regional conflict for different and sometimes conflicting goals, with the protracted dispute over who will take the position of the UN envoy to succeed the resigned envoy, and the reliance of some candidates on international support, may push the continuation of managing the crisis and freezing the conflict, with an acceptable settlement through the Political Dialogue Forum, or after a first round of presidential elections, after which the 10 or 20 highest votes will be chosen to achieve a settlement and share power in a new government.

In addition to these expectations, USA, along with some allies, may push other suggestions that satisfy most of the parties to the conflict, and not push matters towards provoking the Russian opponent, or dragging the country into a new war, as the complex chaotic scene is open to all expected and unexpected ends.

The return of past ghosts from election gate

The December election fever continue with the candidacy of Khalifa Haftar, with all his criminal record, and Saif Gaddafi, who is wanted by the local and international judiciary, for the presidency in Libya, and then came a third, with the candidacy of Aqila Saleh, the Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR), he is the one who granted Haftar ranks, titles, and legitimacy to commit his horrific crimes, before the people adopted the constitution and decided the type of state they preferred, and the system of its powers.

Is it a presidential or parliamentary republic or will it be a monarchy? Will it adopt the federal system or will it remain centralized? Where do the powers of the president end and the powers of HoR and the government begin? There is no constitutional basis for the authority to be formed by elections. This confirms that the elections, especially the presidential elections, are no longer a purely Libyan affair, but rather an international goal that achieves the interests of several countries whose interests intersect and conflict with Libya.

Saif did not find any legal impediment to prevent him from running in the presidential elections, according to the law enacted by Aqila Saleh, with detailed conditions that fits him and Haftar, leaving the door open for their return to their previous positions in the event of failure, and excluding a strong candidate, their chances of winning diminish with his presence and he is the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. Aqila deliberately did not include a term in the conditions of candidacy that prevents the wanted person from running for elections, because Haftar is wanted by the judiciary with an arrest warrant issued by the Public Prosecutor after his televised coup in February 2014.

But things sometimes go in unexpected paths, and they were not planned or taken into account. Candidates will be presented to all Libyan legislation that are related to civil rights, not only to the terms of the Aqila presidential elections law, then the scope of the conditions expands and extends to the fields that Aqila and his group of MPs sought to avoid, until the competitors’ chances are reduced or they are eliminated, and the presidency comes to be obedient to him or his staunch ally Haftar.

The election fever and the controversy over all its details will continue to escalate as we get closer to its date, there is no complete certainty that the path is actually moving towards its implementation, the circle of objections to its laws is widening, and the rejection of the candidacy of Haftar and Saif Gaddafi is a fixed position in the west of the country, to the point of threatening to close the polling stations, and there are no guarantees that the Ministry of Interior will be able to implement its plan to secure all polling stations, in Haftar’s security regime remained in control of the east of the country.

Hence, all possibilities, including postponement, are available despite the international insistence on implementing it, without ignoring the risks of this postponement, which some local and regional parties are seeking, for the current fragile stability.

Regardless of the expected political developments in the midst of this shift in power, and the expected and unexpected changes in the map of alliances between the enemies and friends of yesterday, the return of the ghosts of the past does not at all indicate a setback or retreat of the revolution, and that change is around the corner from its abort, and the return of the old regime with its rules, pillars, and alliances through the natural heir Saif Gaddafi or the hybrid Haftar.

This moment is not different from the struggle that preceded it between the forces of revolution and change and the forces that oppose it, but rather it is the natural extension of it. This is the essence of the conflict, no matter how different the masks behind which the remnants of the former regime and Haftar hid their faces, to jump on power and resume rule with the tools and rules of dictatorship.

The most eloquent description of this moment in which the collapsed regime returns through the specter of Gaddafi, seeking to restore his power, is the saying of the Italian philosopher Gramsci. “Old is dying and new is born.”

Undoubtedly, the dying will be prolonged and childbirth will be difficult. But the death of the old is inevitably coming, and the new must be born after all this labor, pain and blood, the moment of change emerged a decade ago, and the struggle is continuing towards its affirmation and dedication, despite all the obstacles and conspiracy. After inhaling the air of freedom, peoples will not return to the stench of tyranny.

The shining proof is that the Arab peoples in Syria, Tunisia and Sudan did not surrender, and the continuation of their struggle by all means until the remnants of the dark past regimes were forced to submit and surrender to the will of the people to see the future. The Libyan people will not be an exception. Rather, they may be the closest to achieving the desired change and implementing their will to liberate and establish the state for which generations have struggled for more than half a century.


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