Libya urged to reschedule presidential vote ‘swiftly’

Several Libyan parliamentary candidates call for nationwide protests over the cancellation of the election



A man reads a local newspaper in the Libyan capital Tripoli, on December 23, 2021, with an article on its front page about the postponement of the country's presidential elections. — AFP
A man reads a local newspaper in the Libyan capital Tripoli, on December 23, 2021, with an article on its front page about the postponement of the country's presidential elections. — AFP

By Agencies

Published: Fri 24 Dec 2021, 8:34 PM

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States on Friday urged war-torn Libya to quickly set a new date for delayed presidential elections.

“We call on the relevant Libyan authorities to respect the aspirations of the Libyan people for prompt elections by swiftly determining a final date for the polling and issuing the final list of presidential candidates without delay,” said a joint statement from five nations.

The authorities overseeing Libya’s first presidential election said earlier this week holding it on Friday as scheduled would be “impossible”.

The vote was intended to mark a fresh start for the oil-rich North African country, a year after a landmark ceasefire and more than a decade after its 2011 revolt that toppled and killed Moamer Gadhafi.

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But speculation of a delay had been mounting for weeks. There were bitter disputes over the vote’s legal basis, the powers of the winner and the candidacies of several deeply divisive figures.

On Wednesday, the chairman of the parliamentary committee overseeing the vote wrote to the assembly’s speaker saying that “after consulting the technical, judicial and security reports, we inform you of the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of December 24, 2021”.

It did not propose an alternative to Friday, a date set last year during UN-led peace talks in Tunis.

The country’s electoral commission, the HNEC, later on Wednesday suggested delaying the vote to January 24.

Libya’s parliament is to meet on Monday to debate a new timeline for elections.

The election, intended to go hand-in-hand with parliamentary polls, was part of a United Nations-led peace process, yet UN special envoy Jan Kubis resigned just weeks before the ballot.

One point of contention was a presidential elections law controversially passed by speaker Aguila Saleh, which critics say bypassed due process and favoured a run by his ally, eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar.

Another candidate is Gadhafi’s son Seif Al Islam — a divisive symbol of the old regime wanted by the International Criminal Court over war crimes allegations.

Meanwhile, several Libyan parliamentary candidates called for nationwide protests over the cancellation of the election.

While it was unclear to what extent Libyans would demonstrate publicly, the call underlines risks to a fragile stability in the nation.

“Do not be passive. Take to the streets and express your opinion. Force them to respect your will,” AlSalhen AlNihoom, a parliamentary candidate from the eastern city of Benghazi, wrote on his Facebook page.

Many parliamentary hopefuls have circulated a poster calling for rallies on what they dubbed “Salvation Friday.” The poster listed the demands of protesters, namely to set Jan. 24 as a final deadline for the poll.

Earlier this week, some 50 parliamentary hopefuls denounced the cancellation of the vote, insisting in a joint statement that the commission should set another final date for holding it. The statement called on Libyans to take to the streets to defend their “right to a safe, stable and sovereign” country.


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