“A new Libyan government can be declared only after holding elections, and with the will of the people,” former United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, Jan Kubis said in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah on Sunday.
Libya has again been pulled apart, with two rival governments claiming power after tentative steps toward unity in the past year, following a decade of civil war.
“All the participants at the Paris Conference were very clear – a new government will come after elections in the country, and will be the result of a legitimate process,” Kubis highlighted.
“That is the line that I take, as endorsed by the whole international community, including the United Nations, European Union, leading countries and Turkey, which was there,” he explained.
The Paris International Conference for Libya, held in November 2021, underlined the need for “free, fair, inclusive, and credible Presidential and Parliamentary elections.”
In February, the eastern-based Libyan Parliament elected former Interior Minister, Fathi Bashagha to lead a new interim government.
The lawmakers confirmed that the mandate of incumbent Prime Minister, Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba, who is based in Tripoli, expired when elections failed to take place in December.
Dbaiba, has however remained defiant against replacing his government. This is despite the resignations of a handful of ministers, and the handover of government buildings in the south and east to Bashagha’s government.
Over the past few months, divisions among Libyan factions have deepened, with militias mobilizing – especially in the western region. This has raised fears that fighting could return, after more than a year and a half of relative calm.
The Presidential vote was originally planned for 24 December, but was postponed over disputes between rival factions. This was over laws governing the elections and controversial candidates, resulting in a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos.
“Two governments means conflict and chaos. This works against the interests of Libya and the interests of having elections as the only way that can form a government through a legitimate process based on the votes of the people, empowered by the people,” Kubis continued.
“The Paris Conference that represented a consensus of the international community at least at that point of time – and I think it is still valid – was very clear – only after elections there will be a new government,” he urged.
He indicated that all other arguments and speculations will bring chaos, confrontation, and no solution.
“Interim government after interim government, Libya lived through this, suffered through this. It is time to stop this,” the envoy emphasized.
Kubis agreed that “some discussions about how to improve the legal and constitutional basis, ahead of holding elections remain,” adding that “elections are a must and should not be delayed further.”
“Sometimes ‘the best’ is the enemy of the good. It is better to have the elections even if they are imperfect than not to have the elections and wait endlessly for some miraculous best solution possible,” he concluded.