The UK’s decision to continue to recognize the Government of National Unity, led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, sparked outcry from the Libya public who denounced the move as interference in the country’s political affairs.
“The UK continues to recognise the Government of National Unity as the authority tasked with leading Libya to elections and does not endorse the establishment of parallel governments or institutions,” the British embassy stated via Twitter on Friday.
This comes after Libya’s House of Representatives and the High National Election Commission (HNEC) abruptly called off the presidential elections two days before its scheduled date on December 24.
The parliament cited “technical, judicial and security” obstacles which it claimed would make it “impossible” to hold the first round of presidential polls.
The postponement of the elections put the fate of Dbeibeh’s government in limbo because its nine-month mandate expired on December 24 as stipulated by the United Nations peace roadmap.
Amid the uncertainty inside Libya over the fate of the government, the UK was the first foreign country to publicly announce that it will only recognize Dbeibeh’s government, which angered many Libyans.
Dozens of Libyans took to various social media websites to voice their anger with the UK decision. The Facebook page of the UK Embassy, particularly the post in which the announcement was made, became filled with comments from Libyans expressing their frustration with the British decision.
On Twitter, many Libyans demanded that British Ambassador Caroline Hurndall be expelled using the Arabic hashtag “Kick the UK Ambassador out of Libya”, which gained engagement of 4,5362 impressions within 24 hours, according to Track My Hashtag website.
Libya public figures also took to social media to condemn the UK’s decision including journalists and politicians.
“It is shameful thing for the UK government to recognize a crippled authority, which was brought to power bribery and corrupt money, after failing to hold the [electoral] process for which it came to deliver,” wrote Libyan journalist Mahmud Elforjani.
امر مخزي من حكومة المملكة المتحدة اعترافها بسلطة عرجاء جاءت بها الرشوة والمال الفاسد على راس السلطة بعد فشلها في اجراء الاستحقاق الذي جاءت من اجله https://t.co/UzhusZ8Q0u
— Mahmud Elforjani (@mahmoud1722011) December 24, 2021
“The UK Government imposing its own will on the Libyan people as if they are subjects of the Queen? Such a sad state of affairs.” wrote Libyan journalist Mohammed Eljarh.
— Mohamed Eljarh (@Eljarh) December 24, 2021
“The [UK Embassy] statement shows a selective interpretation of the roadmap. Isn’t this the same roadmap which obligated Dbaiba to sign an oath to not run for the upcoming elections as a primary condition to his nomination,” stated Ahmed Al-Sherksi, a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF).
The @UKinLibya’s statement shows a selective interpretation of the roadmap. Isn’t this the same roadmap which obligated Dbaiba to sign an oath to not run for the upcoming elections as a primary condition to his nomination?# https://t.co/JIpLXOwOxr
— ahmed Alsharkasi (@ahmedalshrkse2) December 24, 2021
If Libya was a state, the [UK] ambassador would have been summoned tonight,” wrote Libyan journalist Matog Sale. “By what right does this country decide the mandated authority in Libya?”