Originally published by Internationalist 360.
By Yoselina Guevara
The High National Electoral Commission of Libya announced on Wednesday, December 22 the postponement of the presidential elections, suggesting that the first round of voting be postponed to January 24, 2022. In a statement, the Commission said that it will be the House of Representatives who will set the official date within the next thirty days, in addition to taking the necessary measures to remove the obstacles that prevent the completion of the electoral process.
Following the announcement of the temporary suspension of the elections, the Libyan capital, Tripoli, witnessed a military mobilization in different parts of the city, guarding the streets of Shara’a Al-Zawiya and Bab Bengashhir, as well as Ain Zara and Khallet Al-Furjan, in the south of the capital, which caused tensions and hinted at possible armed clashes. The University of Tripoli, as well as various educational institutions, announced the suspension of academic activities to protect the safety of both students and staff.
It is clear that the suspension of the elections is due to a security issue, given the continuous calls for boycott by different armed organizations, among them the terrorist organization “Muslim Brotherhood. An armed group led by Saleh Badi, military commander of the city of Misrata, had recently besieged important institutional offices in the capital, including the government and the defense ministry. Badi had declared that there would be no presidential elections in Libya and that he would shut down all state institutions, criticizing the role played by the UN special advisor for Libya, Stephanie Williams, calling her a criminal.
According to UN estimates, there are currently 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians and Sudanese. The current Libyan authorities have called for the withdrawal of foreign fighters, but their numbers have not decreased. Despite the arms embargo, the flights supplying the western and eastern regions of Libya do not cease. In any case, according to UN experts, the armament in civilian hands is more than enough in the country to sustain any future conflict.
Meeting of opposites
On December 21, three of Libya’s most powerful figures met in Benghazi; General Khalifa Haftar, military chief of Cyrenaica, and former members of the Tripoli government Ahmed Matig and Fathi Bashaga, both from Misurata. This would suggest a possible alliance of these three characters who have fought on opposing sides in recent years and are excluded from the current executive. The intention of this triumvirate seems evident to replace or at least marginalize the current premier Abdulhamid Dabaiba, and the candidate Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of former president Muammar Gaddafi. Most likely, the initiative will be blessed from afar by the United States, whose only concrete interest in Libya is the withdrawal of the Turks and Russians.
Convulsed Libyan map
For now the political and electoral map of Libya remains irreconcilably divided. In the east, control is exercised by General Haftar with the headquarters of parallel institutions, including the Parliament and the backing of some nations at the international level. In the west of the country is the capital Tripoli, and the official seat of the transitional government, legitimized by the UN Security Council, under Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dabaiba, a millionaire businessman whose mandate should end on December 24 but will probably be extended until elections are held. In Tripoli, however, those who really seem to be in control are the various armed militias that persist despite the apparent pacification. The south seems to be aligned with Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, son of Muammar Qaddafi after his official acceptance as presidential candidate. This support could be a product of the legacy of his father Muammar Qaddafi who managed to bring together the original communities of southern Libya overcoming ethnic and tribal rivalries, forming part of the backbone of his army and security forces.
It is very difficult to determine what will be the outcome of the presidential elections, if they are held, because of the heterogeneity in the composition of its society, a mixture of tribes and urban centers that certainly cannot be analyzed from a westernized vision. On the other hand, the absence of legitimacy of the current transitional government from the deep heart of Libya further complicates the situation.
What we do know for sure is what Libya has become since the overthrow and assassination of Muammar Qaddafi, a country plunged into political chaos, with a destroyed economy, where thousands of migrants daily, under the siege of human traffickers, seek an escape route to Europe through the sea, finding only death or suffering a fate even crueler than the one they already live.
Yoselina Guevara Correo del Alba Venezuelan correspondent in Italy
Originally published by Internationalist 360.