Libya urged to postpone presidential poll ‘quickly’


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London (AFP) – The United States and four European powers on Friday urged war-torn Libya to quickly set a new date for a delayed presidential election.

In a joint statement, they urged the leaders of the North African country to designate a new date “quickly” and release the final list of presidential candidates, which had been a key point of contention as the elections approached. elections scheduled for Friday. .

“We call on the relevant Libyan authorities to respect the aspirations of the Libyan people for quick elections,” said Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.

Authorities overseeing the country’s first-ever presidential election said earlier this week that holding it as scheduled on Friday would be “impossible”.

The vote was intended to mark a new beginning for the oil-rich country, a year after a historic ceasefire and more than a decade after his 2011 revolt that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

But speculation about a delay had been mounting for weeks. There were bitter disputes over the legal basis of the vote, the credentials of the winner and the candidacies of several deeply conflicting personalities.

The country’s electoral commission has suggested postponing the vote until January 24, but it remains to be seen whether an agreement can be reached between the divided institutions.

The Libyan parliament is due to meet on Monday to debate a new timetable.

Litigation

Another key issue will be the term of the current interim government, which was due to end on Friday with the elections.

In their declaration, the five powers insisted on the fact that “the transfer of power from the current interim executive power to the new executive power will take place after the announcement of the results” of the polls when they take place.

In a subsequent tweet, the UK Embassy in Tripoli said that London “continues to recognize #Government_of_National_Unity as the authority responsible for leading #Libya to # elections and does not endorse the creation of governments or parallel institutions “.

The unitary administration based in Tripoli is headed by Abdulhamid Dbeibah, a tycoon and presidential candidate. Analysts have suggested that his rivals may want to exploit the delay in order to exonerate him.

The presidential poll was supposed to go hand in hand with parliamentary elections as part of a UN-led peace process, but UN special envoy Jan Kubis resigned just weeks before the poll.

One controversial issue was a presidential election law controversially passed by Speaker of Parliament Aguila Saleh and approved by Kubis. Critics say he circumvented due process and favored a run by eastern military leader Khalifa Haftar.

Another candidate is Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, a symbol of the division of the former regime wanted by the International Criminal Court on allegations of war crimes.

Libya has enjoyed a year of relative calm since the October 2020 ceasefire following a year-long offensive by Haftar’s forces on Tripoli, with both sides supported by foreign states.

But the postponement of the elections has once again called into question the political process, and the potential for further fighting still remains.