Emanuele Rossi

Libyan protests are a wake-up call. Citizens are exhausted, the risk of violent drifts exists and could alter a serene regional climate.

Is the solution a management mechanism until the elections?

“The demonstrations in Libya are a wake-up call for the entire political class,” commented Nicola Orlando, special envoy for the Italian government’s Libyan dossier. 

The diplomat’s declaration follows a position already taken by Rome and by all the Western actors most taken up by the Libyan dossier: stop internal divisions to prevent uncontrollable and violent drifts from starting, and a sincere return to the path towards stabilization, read a declaration joint released a few days ago .

An almost propitiatory examination: on Friday evening some protesters protesting against the government attacked the headquarters of the House of Representatives, which since 2014 has exiled itself to Tobruk, in Cyrenaica. 

Several people broke into the building, using a bulldozer, online footage showing protesters demolishing the entrance and marching inside. Computers and furniture were set on fire in front of the building by the fury of the protesters. Other protests, with several hundred people involved, also took place in the capital Tripoli and in other cities such as Misrata

What happens is the result of an institutional stalemate that has lasted for months, with a government mandated by parliamentary trust (led by Fathi Bashaga ) that fails to take office, and another disheartened (led by Abdelhamid Dabaiba ) that does not leave the offices of power – because it disputes the parliamentary voting process received by Bashaga and claims a role conferred on it by the UN (with the path of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, which expired on 22 June).

The divisions affecting citizens’ livelihoods, including the closure of oil plants, and the political quarrels that delay elections must stop. The manifestation of the popular will must remain peaceful and unhindered, ”adds Orlando.

The point is this: those who demonstrate, the Libyans, are substantially exasperated by a paradoxical condition. After more than a decade of divisions leading to internal wars, a ceasefire reached in October 2020 had opened up positive possibilities. 

A stabilization process had been initiated between East and West, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, supported by the international community and this mending of the deepest Libyan fault should have led to the vote.

Dabaiba held this post but failed due to conflicting internal political divisions and interests. Now the Libyans are calling for elections, but they are also asking for these divisions to end immediately because the country is in a state of suffering. 

In one image: Tripoli’s electricity supply is limited to less than eight hours a day making life difficult for citizens.

The outraged crowd demanded the dissolution and suspension of all political bodies and to go to elections as soon as possible, blaming the HoR president, Agila Saleh , and Cyrenaica’s militant leader, Khalifa Haftar , for the current crisis. grips the country.

Libyan sources inside the demonstrators explain that the Chamber is “holding Libya hostage”. Saleh, an 83-year-old politician with several entrances, is accused of moving parliament according to his own interests.

The HoR is the last elected body in Libya: the representatives appointed in 2014 received the vote of just 18% of the voters. 

To say, President Saleh had only obtained 913 votes, and with those for eight years he has held a part of the political power in the country.

Now the Libyans contest its effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. “He did not play his legislative and control role, his (the parliamentarians he would control, ed ) deliberately postponed the elections to stay in power,” say the protesters, who are using the Internet to organize rallies and to tell their stories. reasons.

In recent days, Saleh met in Geneva, together with the UN special envoy, Stephanie Williams , with Khaled Mishri – the president of the High Council of State, an institutional body that acts as a Tripolitan counterpart to the Chamber, more crushed on the Cyrenaica. 

The purpose of the meeting was to solve the problems on the constitution and the institutional law and to find a framework for how to lead the country to the vote, while addressing the problems of citizenship.

At the moment there have not been any events, but there is a hypothesis, also aired in these days by the American special envoy, Richard Norland.

In an interview with Reuters , the US ambassador spoke of a mechanism to control spending “in the midst of the governance stalemate (the Libyan central bank has blocked funds and there is no approved state budget). The United States has dubbed the political-diplomatic vector “Mechanism for Short Term Financial, Economic and Energy Dependability” or “Mustafeed”.

This mechanism could provide a short-term pseudo-governmental function until elections are held. In essence, the Mustafeed could evade the controversy between the government of Dabaiba (acronym GNU) and that of Bashaga (GNS).

It is an idea that has been circulating among various chancelleries that have been working on Libya for several weeks. It would be a way to find a third way, if accepted by all, and to entrust it with the path towards the elections.

The large risk behind what is happening is that someone will use the Libyan stage to crack the climate of general relaxation that characterizes the current phase in the enlarged Mediterranean.

It has already happened in the past that the protests led to armed clashes which were then poured out by external interests and by proxy. Now that tactical quiet reigns, the fear is that Libya will alter things.


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