Nothing is certain and everything is debatable in Libya following the postponement of elections.
Since the long-awaited presidential elections of Libya - originally scheduled for December 24, 2021 - were postponed due to lack of constitutional basis and the candidacies of controversial figures, divisions in the north African country have worsened.
Most recently, the eastern-based Tobruk Parliament, House of Representatives (HoR), has announced that the UN-backed Government of National Unity’s (GNU) mandate has expired and it will be installing a rival government.
Announcing the decision, speaker of the HoR, Aguila Saleh, on Monday, said his parliament kicked off the submission process for candidates’ paperwork for the prime ministry to replace the internationally-recognised GNU’s head, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah and install what they called a ‘new government’ on February 8.
The spokesman of the HoR, Abdullah Blehiq, on the other hand, said candidate documents will be accepted until the hearing session on February 7 and the official list to be announced a day after.
Blehiq also said the HoR would call on stakeholders such as the UN and foreign countries to not intervene in the domestic affairs of Libya in case they oppose the process.
Commenting on the technical side of the process, the head of HoR’s roadmap committee, Nasser Al-Deen Mahana said the elections can be held between 10-12 months adding that during this period Libya needs a stronger government which operates throughout the country.
Libyan PM Dbeibah responded by saying that the HoR speaker, Aguila Saleh, is trying to take the country to the brink of division and further fragmentation.
The Libyan PM told Al Jazeera his government will continue its work until elections and added that following a series of conversations with all international actors he had been assured that they would oppose the attempts of HoR and Saleh to create a parallel transitional process.
Libya’s High Council of State (HCS) also rejected the development saying that it pursues one track and ignores the paths initially agreed on by all parties. The HCS stated its opposition to the attempts and called them ‘unacceptable and inapplicable’.
Based on the initial agreements which were accepted by both the GNU and HoR, the parliamentary and presidential elections must take place after the amendment of a new constitution agreed by all parties.
Amid the debates around the fate of Libya’s long-awaited elections, the special adviser to the UN secretary general, Stephanie Williams said; “My fear is that some people may now manoeuvre for a prolonged period of delay. The HoR exists off a mandate that it was given in elections 3,700 days ago. It has been seven years, seven months since Libya went to the national polls. The other chamber, the High State Council, was elected 10 years ago. Their shelf life has long expired. This is ultimately a struggle over assets, power and money. That is quite a motive to hang on.”
“I want the HoR as quickly as possible to set out a credible political process that answers the question that almost 3 million Libyans have asked, which is: what has become of our elections? It is entirely possible for the HoR to put elections back on track, and for an electoral event to happen by June,” Williams added.
Criticising the HoR while reminding it of its main responsibilities, she said, “Instead they have turned their attention to the musical chairs game, and the formation of a new government to replace the GNU. Before discussing a new government whose mandate would be unknown, the HoR should set an election date.”
The special adviser also added that the possible formation of two governments in the country could trigger the re-emergence of Daesh in the south of Libya.
Amid the unprecedented rise of tensions in the war-torn country, even the fate of Stephanie Williams is uncertain as Russia and the US last week were at odds over extending the UN mission in Libya that ended on January 31.
Moscow and Washington were deadlocked when the UK proposed a resolution vote to extend UNSMIL’s mission until September 15 as Russia intended to veto the text before proposing its own resolution for a vote, which could have also been vetoed by the US.
During a Security Council meeting on Libya on January 24, Russia's Ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, offered to appoint a new mediator in Libya. In the following days, UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, reaffirmed Un Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's full support for Williams.