Libyan Presidential Election Postponed

News is coming through that the Libyan parliament has postponed Friday’s presidential election in Libya as the ballot papers for nearly 90 candidates have not been circulated in time for voting.

This has been the most likely outcome for the past three weeks ever since Libya’s Higher National Elections Commission realised it could not deliver the complete technical and logistic support needed for a transparent, free and fair election.

It does not help that the judiciary has allowed high-profile candidates, who have broken eligibility rules to stand for president, or that the government cannot guarantee the safety of international monitors as local militia deny the voters full access to the candidates.

This was the main topic of discussion at The Oriental Club where I recently joined a panel of speakers about the future prospects for Libya. We concluded that the government is in between the rocks of “Scylla” and whirlpool of “Charybdis” over the issue of holding the elections on the 70th anniversary of independence. If they hold them on Christmas Eve, the losers will refuse to recognise the results because the legal framework is flawed. However, postponing them risks deepening the divide between the three main regions Cyrenaica (East), Tripolitania (West) and Fezzan (South); and strengthening the position of those who wish to maintain the status quo.

At least the UN Secretary General has now appointed a competent Special Adviser in Stephanie Williams to mediate between the opposing parties. Having been Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, she knows the challenges and understands how important the economic and military tracks are to political progress in 2022.

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