Libya’s obsession with elections


At the wheel of an excavator, Abdelhamid Dbeibah, the head of the Libyan unified government since March, proudly destroys three sand dams to reopen the coastal road closed between Sirte and Misrata for eighteen months. The American Embassy in Tripoli applauds this magnificent symbol of the country’s reunification, at work since the ceasefire of October 2020, between the forces of the East and the West who have been tearing each other for years .

This gesture comes at the right time, three days before the conference on peace in Libya which is being held Wednesday, June 23 in Berlin, under the aegis of Germany and the UN. Alas, a few hours later, the delegation representing the forces of Marshal Khalifa Haftar – from Cyrenaica, in the east of the country – within the Joint Military Commission (CMM), disputes this “Unilateral act”. And the next day, the CMM postpones the reopening.

The incident speaks volumes about the gap between the UN timetable and the reality of the situation in Libya. The Berlin conference has two objectives: to ensure the holding of presidential and legislative elections next December and to organize the departure of foreign fighters, mercenaries and soldiers, present in both camps. “We should avoid falling back into the trap of Berlin 1”, warns Aude Thomas, researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research, referring to the first conference in January 2020. “In the absence of binding measures, the foreign presences then continued to strengthen on the ground, she notes. However, to accept a disengagement is for one of the parties to the conflict to put itself in danger vis-à-vis the other. “ So hopes are turning to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to provide the necessary impetus.

“This summit will give gigantic importance to the holding of elections, but Abdelhamid Dbeibah, supported by Ankara, is in no hurry to return his apron. And for lack of serenity and security, these elections even risk being a catalyst for violence ”, fears Jalel Harchaoui, researcher at the “Global initiative against transnational organized crime” think tank. The constitutional text to organize them is overdue. Not only does its adoption by referendum seem compromised, but the Parliament itself does not seem able to approve the project drawn up by the 75 members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. He couldn’t even pass the country’s budget. However, there is an urgent need to relieve a population that suffers and suffers from lack of liquidity, power cuts, etc.

“Abdelhamid Dbeibah wanted an ambitious budget for reconstruction and development. It would also benefit him, the businessman who built his wealth in the construction industry. His enemies are putting obstacles in his way ”, explains Jalel Harchaoui. For their part, the Amazighs (Berbers) – hardly evaluated at 10% of the 6 to 7 million Libyans – have already shouted loud and clear, through their Supreme Council, that they rejected a project that does not offer guarantees. required for minorities.

“Unification only exists on paper”, corroborates Aude Thomas. A sign of the persistent tensions, the kidnappings and enforced disappearances, even assassinations, of journalists, human rights defenders and magistrates continue, as the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies denounced with concern in a letter sent on the 21st. June to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General.

“And as before each political deadline, Khalifa Haftar shows his muscles”, adds Aude Thomas. The senior officer of the East, who failed to conquer the capital in 2019-2020, landed in force in Sebha, in the southern region of Fezzan, at the end of last week, with a column of 300 vehicles and 2,000 men for there “Hunt down terrorists”. On June 19, the presidential council, theoretically supreme commander of the army, prohibited military movements in the country without its approval …

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