UN Envoy Calls for Inclusive Libyan Elections


The UN Envoy to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily seems to be showing a preference for the eastern-based bloc, headed by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar as a Presidential candidate. He has even suggested that Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi should also be allowed to run – a hugely contentious position aimed at loosening up the stalemate in Libya, according to a report by Maghrebi.org.

Bathily is trying to overcome objections to contentious candidates, among the many hurdles that block the way to holding elections in the country this year. He has yet to find support among some key actors, especially the Libyan Parliament, and the theoretically-consultative High Council of State (HCS).

The two bodies remain slow at moving towards agreeing on the constitutional rules that would underlie the legislative and Presidential elections. This is despite their approval of the thirteenth amendment to the Constitutional Declaration.

Neither of their positions is in sync with those of Bathily on the conditions for Presidential candidates.

The UN Envoy said recently that, “it is unacceptable to exclude candidates from Presidential elections for political reasons.”

This position was considered his first explicit stand on the divisive issue, which has long prevented the finalization of an agreement on the constitutional basis and election laws.

Bathily’s statements were seen as working in favour of the candidacy of Haftar, and accommodating the latter’s supporters in the Parliament.

But his position faces strong objections from the Head of the HCS, Khaled Al-Mishri, and many of his fellow members. Along with western-based militias, and the Government of National Unity’s (GNU) Prime Minister, Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba.

Bathily explained in a recent interview with France 24 and Radio France Internationale that “any exclusion of candidates from the Presidential race for political reasons would seriously undermine the country’s territorial integrity, and would be seriously prejudicial to Libyan society. Such a situation will not only lead us to a state of stalemate but also to an exacerbation of the crisis.”

Without naming names, he expressed his belief that the surest way to hold elections is to allow candidates, including Dbaiba, or even Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and Haftar to run. Otherwise, there will be no elections, and the situation could get worse leading to a new military showdown.

On the way to the aborted elections of 24 December 2021, Haftar, Dbaiba, and Saif Al-Islam were cleared to run for the Presidency. But the Parliament objected to the last two candidates.

The exacerbation of the Libyan crisis, according to Bathily, would have “serious consequences for all neighbouring countries.” He said that Sahel states, with their festering security vacuum, will suffer the most from any new Libyan flare-up of tensions, especially since “Libya is an open-air arms market.”

The deterioration of the situation in Libya could mean the collapse of the current de facto truce, and the country’s political system facing a legitimacy void, analysts say.

If the HCS and other like-minded forces maintain their own conditions for Presidential bids, will result in any agreement with the Parliament on election laws failing.

On Wednesday, the HCS named its members to the 6 + 6 committee, which is supposed to bridge positions on contentious issues, including that of the conditions for Presidential bids. Observers believe that naming the committee members is an important step, but it remains insufficient in view of lingering disagreements about its prerogatives. This may prompt Bathily to embark on the formation of a higher steering committee, as an alternative to the Parliament and the HCS.

Bathily had hinted that he would resort to what he called an “alternative measure.”

If Libya’s legislative bodies were unable to agree on electoral laws in a timely manner, “We will look at what alternative we will find”, the UN Libya envoy told Reuters o