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Libya Political Leaders To Meet On Electoral Laws

Many Libyans have expressed doubt about the sincerity with which their political leaders are engaging in negotiations, believing that doing so would risk their removal from office.

To finalize a compromise on new election regulations, Libyan politicians were scheduled to meet in Morocco on Monday. However, any agreement they announce on voting rules or a new interim administration is likely to spark opposition, which could further stall the political process.

Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR), and Khaled al-Mishri, the head of the High State Council (HSC), left for Morocco on Monday morning with the intention of concluding a deal, according to Meshri’s spokeswoman and a member of the House of Representatives.

The two would probably portray any agreement as a significant victory following months of impasse; U.N. envoy Adoulaye Bathily has stated that if an agreement is achieved this month, national elections may be held by the end of the year.

However, 61 members of the HoR and some HSC members have already objected to the way their leaders have been negotiating their agreement, and have said they will oppose its ratification.

Disputes over fundamental constitutional issues including the role of a president and parliament, and over key questions of electoral law including the eligibility of divisive candidates, have long bedevilled Libya’s political process.

The country has had little peace or security since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ended four decades of rule by Muammar Gaddafi. Libya split in 2014 between warring eastern and western factions that still control most territory.

Since the main factions agreed a ceasefire in 2020, peace efforts have focused on pushing for national elections to create governing institutions with broad political legitimacy that the existing bodies are widely seen to lack.

The HoR was elected as a national parliament in 2014 to a four-year term. The HSC was created as part of a political agreement in 2015 from members of an earlier interim parliament elected in 2012.

The Government of National Unity in Tripoli under Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah was created in 2021 as part of a U.N.-backed process, but it was only supposed to govern until national elections that were planned for the end of that year.

Since the December 2021 election collapsed because of disputes over the rules both the HoR under Saleh and the HSC under Meshri have rejected the legitimacy of Dbeibah’s government.

However, under a 2015 political agreement, the international community requires both bodies to approve any new constitutional rules allowing an election, or a change in government.

Many Libyans have voiced scepticism that their political leaders are negotiating in good faith, believing them to be unwilling to bring forward elections that might remove them from their positions of power.