Libya’s political rivals should stop conducting musical chairs to stay in power and focus instead on preparing for nationwide elections to be held by June, the U.N. Special Adviser Stephanie Williams said.
In the ensuing month divisions have worsened, as Libya’s parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), prepares to install a government to rival the UN-recognised Government of National Unity (GNU). The HoR says the GNU’s mandate expired on 24 December.
In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian, Williams said “my fear is that some people may now manoeuvre for a prolonged period of delay. The HoR exists off a mandate that it was given in elections 3,700 days ago. It has been seven years, seven months since Libya went to the national polls. The other chamber, the High State Council, was elected 10 years ago. Their shelf life has long expired. This is ultimately a struggle over assets, power and money. That is quite a motive to hang on.
“I want the HoR as quickly as possible to set out a credible political process that answers the question that almost 3 million Libyans have asked, which is: what has become of our elections? It is entirely possible for the HoR to put elections back on track, and for an electoral event to happen by June.”
“Instead they have turned their attention to the musical chairs game, and the formation of a new government to replace the GNU. Before discussing a new government whose mandate would be unknown, the HoR should set an election date.”
“There is a thirst for elections – nearly 2.5 million collected their voting cards and in the city of Benghazi alone 800 people came forward to stand in the parliament,” she said. “There is another new generation of Libyans that want to exercise their political rights.”
“Elections can be part of a broader process of national reconciliation, particularly in countries where there has been no elections for a long time and there is an entrenched political elite who have had their noses in the trough for a long time.”
She said she was ready to sit down immediately with the two chambers to hammer out a constitutional basis for the elections.
Williams warned the possible formation of two governments in the country could be dangerous. The power vacuum last week led to the re-emergence of Islamic State in the south of the country, and an attempt on the life of the minister of justice.
“The spectre of the black flag in the south being raised is something we are all very worried about, and already several Libyan National Army soldiers were killed last week,” she said.