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Before voting, Libyan people should speak | Ideas

On December 22, two days before the Libyan presidential election, the electoral body announced it would suspend the vote. The High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) declared January 24, 2022, as the new election day, after a parliamentary committee overseeing the elections found it “impossible” to do so on December 24 as originally planned.

However, to date, there has been no agreement on a new date or electoral process, or whether the election for president and parliament must be held on the same day or not. But the lack of co-operation on these projects is not a big problem.

There are major unresolved issues plaguing the country right now and, in the absence of negotiations to end it, to hold elections on January 24 or future threats that could plunge the country into new violence.

Difficult previous elections

Voting between political parties has already proven to be a threat to peace in Libya. After the ousting of former president Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libyan players and foreign players rushed to the polls to signal a change in the country’s politics. But instead of pursuing peace, the elections only fueled political and social tensions, creating more and more violence.

On July 7, 2012, Libya held its first parliamentary vote since the fall of Gaddafi’s government by electing a 200-member General National Congress (GNC). “The elections did not bring stability to the country.

Serious social and political tensions were not resolved which led to the unrest before and after the vote. The old grievances of the eastern and southern provinces resurfaced, with residents seeing the uneven distribution of seats as a sign that their expulsion from Tripoli would continue after Gaddafi Libya.

In addition, local politicians sought to undermine the GNC. Prior to the vote, the judiciary was stripped of much of its power, such as electing a constitutional committee and challenging its policies. As a result, the GNC from Tripoli was born weak, suffering from low power and lack of legitimacy. the minister who elected is also weakened.

This allowed oppressive politicians to take advantage of regional conflicts to gain political advantage. In February 2014, General Khalifa Haftar, Gaddafi’s rebel commander-in-chief, launched Operation Dignity, inciting Libyan people to revolt against the GNC. In May, his troops stormed the GNC headquarters in Tripoli and launched an offensive in Benghazi.

After his work ended and the country went to war, the GNC was forced to hold parliamentary elections in June. Amidst the violence and declining population, the House of Representatives was elected. Many GNC members, especially from the West, opposed the results and refused to give legal authority to the new organization. Loyal troops in the GNC thwarted the newly appointed ministers. In November, the Libyan Supreme Court ruled that the June 25 election was unconstitutional, but the House of Representatives, which received UN approval, ignored it.

As a result, by the end of the year, the country was well divided into two camps: the General National Congress in Tripoli, which served as a major and was eventually reorganized in 2015 by the UN Accredited Government (GNA). and the House of Representatives, which moved from the capital to the city east of Tobruk.

One of the main reasons the elections failed to advance the country is that there is no unity between the various politicians in Libya and the commitment to the political principles of democratic change. Prior to the casting of these votes, no guarantee was made for the ratification of the parties. No major steps were taken to address the old grievances of the oppressed groups and to protect their representation in the new state institutions. There was no proper reconciliation between the regions and the tribes that participated in the previous violence.

The absence of these essential elements of the transition process led to its final collapse. Gradually, a split in the legitimacy and representation of the government dragged the country into a civil war between rival camps backed by regional players.

It then took Libyan states and troops for several years to try to jump to start a revolution. In 2020, negotiations to end Haftar’s anger in Tripoli. The Libya Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) was established, with the support of the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMI) and regions and countries, such as Egypt, Turkey, Russia, France, US, and Italy – each with its own interests in Libya.

In 2021, the National Unity Government (GNU) was established as a permanent body to advance the country’s political process, and a presidential election was scheduled for December 24. – a belief against that in September.

Further polarization

After the vote, it was clear that the old divisions continued to grow and undermine change. There have been a number of demanding points, which point to Libya’s deep divisions and disrupt elections.

First, the electoral law, which outlined the electoral process and the establishment of post-election institutions, was not approved by all parties. The contents of the law were drafted and submitted by the House of Representatives, which was not properly discussed with other Libyan government agencies, such as GNU, Presidency Council and High State Council (HSC).

The law was also enacted in a way to establish politics in Libya as a national leader, which gave it greater leadership and power. The constitution also allows incumbents to run for office and return to office if they fail.

Second, no allies, who could unite a divided Libya, were put ahead of the election. In fact, the runners were divisive. Present: GNU Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh who decided to run against them despite promising not to do so; Aguila Saleh, chairman of the House of Representatives and close friend of Haftar; Haftar himself; and finally, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi’s sons, who is being prosecuted for his crimes and is wanted by the International Criminal Court by a government official in Tripoli.

The election of Saif al-Islam, in particular, has sparked outrage among Libyans, who are worried that a referendum aimed at restoring the country to a democratic transition would bring Gaddafi back to power. While he is the one who strongly opposes these leaders, the rest are critical. It is clear that they all want to rush to reclaim or protect their positions and privileges and will not be able to resolve conflicts, bring about one country and gain the approval of all regional players.

Third, as in 2012 and 2014, there seems to be no consensus on “game rules” ahead of the presidential election. Senior politicians – with the help of various armed groups – have been at loggerheads over what will happen after the election, how power will be achieved and how the results will be determined by all.

In addition, there are no political parties or allied forces that can guarantee peace, no political disputes that can resolve conflicts, and no independent media can inform the Libyan people. Most importantly, there is no solidarity among the Libyan people, while the old and new grievances continue and various areas continue to experience discrimination.

The way forward

The UN, along with other countries, has tried to ignore the divisiveness between the major Libyan actors and to push the Libyan people to take any action, as they did in the past, to destroy the country.

Obviously, holding elections under these conditions, which are similar to those in 2012 and 2014, if not worse, would not bring peace and stability to Libya. That is why the suspension of the vote should be seen as an opportunity to pull the country out of further chaos.

In order to get Libya back on track to a peaceful transition, the country needs a new dialogue with the UN and UN. It should bring together all Libyan actors, including civil society organizations, representatives of minority groups (such as Amazigh and Tebu), non-partisan groups (such as Fezza) and non-partisan groups (such as women and youth) and try to form a coalition on elections, appropriate . lawmaking, power exchange, and power-sharing among government agencies.

Political leaders should publicly announce their commitment to the election, pledge to honor the final outcome and be prepared to relinquish their power. Negotiations must also come up with a solution to some of the complex problems of the transition period, such as drafting a new law, the reunification of government agencies – especially the military – to improve security, and reconciliation among the Libyan people.

Ten years after the fall of Gaddafi’s rule, it is time for Libya and other countries to learn from past mistakes. Rushing for the Libyan people to make other choices between major instability and minor grievances leads to instability and violence. Libya has the potential to emerge from failed states, but in order to do so, it needs the support of the international community to engage in international dialogue and move towards peace and reconciliation.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Al Jazeera.

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