Libya should start the process to hold an election in Spring 2019 after a national conference to discuss its ongoing conflict, the UN Libya envoy said officially burying the idea of a vote next month.
Western powers and the United Nations originally hoped to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on December 10 as a way out of the conflict raging since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Violence and a deadlock between rival administrations made that goal unrealistic, although nobody declared it officially dead or offered a new time frame.
Instead, the United Nations wants to focus on a national conference to give Libyans a forum to discuss their future and bridge divisions between armed groups, tribes, town and regions, UN Libya special envoy Ghassan Salame told the UN Security Council.
“The National Conference is to be held in the first weeks of 2019. The subsequent electoral process should commence in the Spring of 2019,” Salame said, without specifying if it was expected then or it ought to happen then.
Saleme did not give a new date for elections or mention December 10 agreed verbally by rival Libyan stakeholders at a summit hosted by France in May.
Shelving the vote is the latest setback for Western powers who helped topple Gaddafi seven years ago before stepping back and seeing hopes for a democratic transition crumble.
Salame said the internationally recognised House of Representatives deliberately failed to approve legislation to hold a vote.
“The House failed to uphold its responsibilities,” he said. “It is now clear the postponed sessions and contradictory public statements by lawmakers were intended to waste time. The body calling itself Libya’s sole legislature is largely sterile.”
The UN hoped to unify before a vote Libya’s two rival administrations – the UN
-backed one in the capital where a rival assembly also is and a largely powerless eastern version aligned with commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control much of the east.
Little progress has been achieved.
“To both Houses, elections are a threat to be resisted at all costs, but to citizens, elections are a means of liberation from ineffective and increasingly illegitimate authorities,” Salame said.
Salame, the sixth UN envoy since 2011, had little concrete to offer beyond already stated goals of handing over security in Tripoli to regular forces, a plan resisted by armed groups currently in control.