There’s no doubt the country needs these elections,’ Ian Martin says at event attended by Arab News. Elections, originally scheduled for December 2021, postponed until June amid disputes between rival factions.

Elections can re-harness Libya’s post-Gaddafi optimism of 2012, but only with the support of a unified international approach, a former UN official said on Thursday at an event attended by Arab News.

Registration for elections due to take place on Dec. 24 last year opened in November with strong turnout, but the nationwide vote was postponed amid disputes between rival factions on laws governing the elections.

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah subsequently informed reporters in January that the intention was now to hold the elections in June this year.

Speaking at the launch of his book “All Necessary Measures? The United Nations and International Intervention in Libya,” Ian Martin, who oversaw Libya’s first post-Gaddafi elections in 2012 as UN head of mission, said the country was crying out for new officials.

There’s no doubt the country needs these elections, and the fact that such large numbers of people appear to be registering as candidates speaks to this,” he added.

The elections in 2012 were a success, but the government that was formed failed to address key issues linked to the ongoing conflict.

And while the 2014 election produced the House of Representatives, it was with significantly fewer registrations and public confidence.

Even so, after eight years of the same people officiating over the country, it seems the population are in search of change.”

Noting that it is often external actors who “push for” swift elections in the wake of violent government overthrow, Martin said in the case of Libya, the desire for democracy was internal but was failed by a disjointed approach from the international community.  

He urged external actors to come together and work out a plan to support the pending elections in a unified manner to address the decade-long turmoil gripping the country.

Part of this, he said, means not only recognizing the legitimacy of the winner but engaging them.

I think these elections can be a success, but there are certain requirements for this; firstly, there has to be a set framework for them,” Martin added.

The 2012 framework worked quite well in electing the government, but it failed to address the urgent issue of security because it lacked the authority required, and this wasn’t helped by the fragmented engagement of international actors.

Security remains a pressing concern, and resultantly the success of any new government will depend on its capacity to engage the international community in addressing it.”


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