Five Western nations have said they would continue to recognise Libya's interim government after its presidential election was delayed, but called for a new polling date to be swiftly set.

Several Libyan parliamentary candidates called for nationwide protests over the cancellation of Friday's long-awaited presidential election.
Several Libyan parliamentary candidates called for nationwide protests over the cancellation of Friday's long-awaited presidential election. (AFP)

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States have urged war-torn Libya to quickly set a new date for delayed presidential elections.

The five nations released a joint statement on Friday, saying they would continue to recognise Libya's interim government, Government of National Unity (GNU), after the country's election was delayed.

"We call on the relevant Libyan authorities to respect the aspirations of the Libyan people for prompt elections by swiftly determining a final date for the polling and issuing the final list of presidential candidates without delay," it said.

The authorities overseeing Libya's first presidential election said earlier this week holding it on Friday as scheduled would be "impossible".

Libya's parliament also said in September it would not recognise the GNU beyond December 24.

However, the statement by Western powers pointed to agreements at an international meeting last month to say power would not be transferred until after the results of the elections were announced.

The British embassy later tweeted that it continued to recognise the GNU and would not endorse any attempt to set up a breakaway government.

READ MORE:What’s next for Libya after delayed elections?

'Impossible' elections

The vote was intended to mark a fresh start for the oil-rich North African country, a year after a landmark ceasefire and more than a decade after its 2011 revolt that toppled and killed Muammar Gaddafi.

But speculation of a delay had been mounting for weeks. There were bitter disputes over the vote's legal basis, the powers of the winner and the candidacies of several deeply divisive figures.

The chairman of the parliamentary committee overseeing the vote wrote to the assembly's speaker on Wednesday.

He said that "after consulting the technical, judicial and security reports, we inform you of the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of December 24, 2021".

The committee did not propose an alternative to Friday, a date set last year during UN-led peace talks in Tunis.

The country's electoral commission, the HNEC, later on Wednesday suggested delaying the vote to January 24.

Libya's parliament is to meet on Monday to debate a new timeline for elections.

READ MORE: Libya’s planned elections are a ticking time bomb

'Elections must hold in legal basis'

Turkiye who sees Libya as one of the important countries in its diplomacy said holding fair and inclusive elections is important to ensure unity and integrity of the nation.

"Turkiye, which played a key role in establishing the ceasefire and calm on the ground, as well as advancing the political process in Libya, has been advocating from the outset that the elections must be held on a solid legal basis, that is reached through the broadest possible consensus among all relevant institutions in accordance with the Libyan Political Agreement," Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Noting the importance of a legal framework that will be supported by all Libyans the statement said it is critical to prevent a power vacuum in the country until the formation of a new government.

"Accordingly, we expect all Libyan parties to act with sense of responsibility and prudence," the ministry stated.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies