Members of the Libyan High Council of State (HCS) announced their rejection of recent statements by the US Ambassador, Richard Norland as “interference in the manner and mechanism of holding elections.”
The members stressed the need to “abide by the norms and laws regulating diplomatic work in Libya.” They also affirmed their refusal to “mortgage Libya’s resources to any foreign country in any way, including the vague mechanism that some are talking about regarding managing financial returns.”
They described this as “a violation of Libyan sovereignty,” warning the sovereign financial institutions against “any step that leads to mortgaging the state’s resources under any name.”
The members reiterated their adherence to “the consensual path reached through the legitimate institutions chosen by the Libyan government.’
As well as emphasised that “the Libyan government is the only one entrusted with managing financial resources, according to the budget approved by the Libyan Parliament.”
Notably, Norland said that general elections can be held in Libya, without resolving a standoff between the two rival governments. He added that a mechanism to oversee spending could help with governance for an interim period.
He told Reuters that while he was optimistic that the Geneva talks this week could resolve the impasse, there were ways to move forward without a single Libyan government. Factions that dominated different parts of the country could separately lead those areas towards national elections.
“The reality of the Libyan political scene is that no single actor can produce an outcome. The only formula that’s going to work is for the key actors to get together, and negotiate a compromise,” he said.
Norland added that if the Geneva talks did not produce a deal, he expected further negotiations would build on areas already agreed.
“The United States and international partners have held meetings with Libyan figures to work out agreements on spending priorities, transparency, funding allocations, and oversight of how money is used,” he said.
“It’s essentially a committee, and you want the right people and the right organisations,” he said, including from state auditing bodies, the Parliament, Finance Ministry, and others.
The Ambassador noted there has been acceptance by eastern and western factions to the idea, and that “it would require broad involvement so that the various political strands in the country feel their interests are being addressed.”
Economic disputes have amplified this year as the political crisis has accelerated. Groups aligned with eastern forces have blockaded oil output, to demand the Parliament-appointed government take power.
The eastern branch of the Central Bank claimed it could start printing its own money, as the process of reunification has stalled.
“A mechanism to resolve financial disputes over oil revenue is key to reunifying the Central Banks. This mechanism could provide a short-term pseudo-governmental function until elections take place, so the sooner that happens the better for all Libyans,” he added.