Back to Division! UN seeks to stay the course on Libya

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ALBAWABA – No one knows exactly what is happening in Libya. The issue of reconciliation and one country becomes very tenuous with the return to rival governments. What happened to the UN mediation becomes problematic especially as the eastern parliament based in Tobruk has just elected Fathi Bashagha as prime minister, leaving UN-recognized prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh and who is based in Tripoli, dry.

A report of Anadolu says Dbeibeh welcomed a US-EU statement on holding elections in Libya. He added that the statement by the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy is “in line” with his government’s plan to hold the vote in Libya next June.

“We have followed the five-state statement on the situation in Libya, which is in line with the UN statement which emphasizes the priority of continuing the electoral path,” Dbeibeh said on Twitter.

The five countries issued a statement on Friday calling on “all actors [in Libya] to refrain from actions that could undermine stability in Libya”, while urging the Libyan House of Representatives (parliament) and the High Council of State to cooperate fully with the efforts and the proposal of the United Nations to establish “a consensual constitutional basis that would lead to national elections as soon as possible”, according to the Turkey-based agency.

Last Friday, UN adviser to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Libya, Stephanie Williams, called on the two assemblies to nominate delegates for “a joint committee dedicated to developing a constitutional basis consensual”. Williams said the committee is scheduled to meet on March 15 “under the auspices of the UN […] work for a period of two weeks to achieve this goal.”

Williams’ call came a day after the country’s east-based parliament swore in a prime minister in a challenge to interim Prime Minister Dbeibah and it’s a move observers fear could tip the balance. Libya in a new schism AFP reports.

She warned in a series of tweets that “the solution to the Libyan crisis does not lie in the formation of rival administrations and lasting transitions”.

She appealed to both bodies to come to the negotiating table. The head of the High Council of State Khalid Al Mishri welcomed his offer, saying that the body had already “adopted last September a constitutional basis on which to rely to find a national consensus”.

“Yes to elections, no to extensions,” he added. but the east-based parliament had not issued an immediate public response according to the French news agency.

Williams’ proposal comes after presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for December 24 as part of a UN-brokered peace process, were scrapped amid bitter disputes over their constitutional and legal basis as well as over the candidacies of several highly contested personalities.

It had dashed hopes of ending a decade of conflict since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The country endured two rival governments from 2014 to early 2021, when Dbeibah’s administration was endorsed by key factions following a ceasefire late the previous year.
Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States on Friday expressed concern over the latest developments, including “reports of violence, threats of violence, intimidation and kidnappings,” AFP continued.

“Any disagreement over the future of the political process must be resolved without resorting to violence,” the foreign ministers of the five countries said in a joint statement.

Last Thursday, Libya found itself once again with two prime ministers – Tripoli-based Dbeibah, who refused to hand over power except to an elected government, and former interior minister Fathi Bashagha, backed by parliament hundreds of miles to the east.
Earlier on Friday, Williams urged all parties to refrain from “acts of escalation” and urged politicians to “engage constructively together to move towards an election, for the good of the 2.8 million Libyans who registered to vote” last year, the French agency concluded.

The UN proposal comes amid a deep political divide in Libya where the Tobruk-based parliament on Thursday gave its confidence to a new government led by former interior minister Fathi Bashagha while Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh insists on retaining his post and duties as Prime Minister Anadolu adds.

Dbeibeh’s government said it would view any attempt to storm its seat as an “attack on the government”, pledging to “deal with such moves in accordance with the law”.

Dbeibeh came to power based on the results of the Libyan Dialogue Forum which set the term of the transitional executive authority at 18 months, until June 24.

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