2022 in Libya was devoid of all the achievements and aspirations that were hoped for during 2021, especially with regard to holding elections and forming a unified government. The country remains on the brink of conflict, threatening the fragile 2020 ceasefire agreement.
Libya Review is highlighting 2022 in Libya, and its potential impact on the coming year.
Failure to Hold elections
Libyans were bitterly disappointed at the failure to hold the Presidential and Parliamentary elections that were scheduled for 24 December 2021.
The failure resulted from disagreements between the various parties in drawing up a consensual constitutional basis, necessary for the elections and setting the conditions for candidates. Especially those related military figures and dual nationals, whose candidacy is supported by the Libyan Parliament, and rejected by the High Council of State (HCS)
The differences over the election laws continue between the two bodies. The intervention of former UN advisor to Libya, Stephanie Williams has also failed to reach a compromise in this regard.
The Crisis of Two-Parallel Governments
After the failure to approve the constitutional rule, despite holding more than 10 meetings in 2022, the Tobruk-based Parliament decided to assign a new government, headed by former Interior Minister Fathi Bashaga.
The government was tasked with holding the long-awaited elections, amid accusations that the Tripoli-based government was behind their disruption to remain in power.
But the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity (GNU), Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba refused to hand over power to the new government.
All of this resulted in what is called the “Crisis of Two Governments” one in Tripoli, and the other in Sirte.
Ceasefire under threat
The presence of two governments in the country has threatened the collapse of the ceasefire agreement. Dbaiba ordered his affiliated militias to prevent Bashagha from entering the capital. This caused deadly clashes between supporters of both sides, killing 10.
Bashagha called on his affiliated militias to stop the fighting, declaring that he would only enter Tripoli peacefully, in order to prevent further bloodshed.
- Within a month after the clashes stopped, Dbaiba was able to change the map of militia distribution inside Tripoli, and remove all militias opposing him.
Suspension of the 5 + 5 JMC
Consequently, the representatives of the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) in the
5 + 5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) suspended their work in protest against the GNU, which “threatens the national security of Libya, warning of the country’s division will lead to economic, social, and security collapse.”
The JMC is composed of military leaders from eastern and western Libya, and is tasked with unifying the military institution, and maintaining the ceasefire.
Appointment of a New UN Envoy
In the midst of these events, many Libyans, including MP’s, accused Stephanie Williams of failing to remain neutral, and behind the disruption of elections.
In turn, Russia refused her appointment as the UN Envoy to Libya for “her bias toward the US,” according to Moscow.
Russia succeeded in putting pressure on the UN Security Council to end Williams’s mandate in Libya, and appoint Senegalese diplomat, Abdoulaye Bathily as the new UN Envoy.
So far, Bathily has been unable to clear the air between the Libyan parties, though a recent initiative was announced to launch a comprehensive Libyan dialogue, and to form a unified government to prepare for elections.
At the end of the year, Dbaiba illegally extradited former intelligence officer, Abu Ajila Masoud to the United States over his alleged involvement in the 1988-Lockerbie bombing. This made Libyans decry the decision, and claim that their sovereignty was being flagrantly violated.
Opening the Lockerbie file, in this way, is considered “a black political deal,” by the GNU from which the legitimacy and confidence of the Parliament were withdrawn.
The Lockerbie case was completely closed in 2004 as part of a Libyan-American agreement signed by the current US President, Joe Biden, when he was Head of Congress at the time.
The agreement stipulated that the case would not be opened or claimed by any figure from Colonel Gaddafi’s regime. Libya paid billions of dollars in compensation to the families of the victims.
The extradition has added to the discontent among Libyans, long frustrated by years of chaos and division.