Libya’s elections, due to take place on Friday, have been cancelled and postponed. The delay has not surprised most of the people, but will it be possible to reach the new deadline under different conditions?
On December 22, the Libyan High National Elections Commission (HNEC) announced the inability to carry out presidential and parliamentary elections on the scheduled date, December 24, due to inadequacies in electoral legislations and problems concerning the eligibility of candidates.
The new date will have to be announced within 30 days and the proposal of January 24 has already been made by the HNEC..
If on the one hand, as announced by the UN Special Advisor for Libya Stephanie Williams, the hopes of Libyans are high to go to the elections in order to end the uncertainty of this period of political transition – 2.8 million Libyans have registered to vote -, on the other hand numerous problems to their implementation remain.
In particular, there is no consensus about the electoral dynamics, East and West being in sharp contrast – especially with regard to the powers that would be entrusted to the president -, and about the eligibility of some divisive candidates who entered the contest. Just think of Col Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, whose candidacy was initially rejected by the electoral commission and on whom there is a conviction for war crimes, or Khalifa Haftar, protagonist of the Libyan civil war as head of the esatern-based forces. Even the candidacy of the interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah is controversial since he had promised not to run.
In addition, most candidates are backed by armed forces which could create tensions and increase the risk of an escalation of violence during and after the elections. Fraud or voter intimidation is likely to occur – so it is important that the voting monitoring structure is robust and widespread throughout the territory – or, in view of a negative result for a given group, armed rebellion may occur.
Also the presence of foreign fighting forces on the Libyan territory can present a factor of destabilization: just think of the still massive presence of the Wagner Group, extremely worrying as there could be political interference by Russia during the elections.
Finally, there are concerns about security in the capital, Tripoli, where rival armed groups deployed around the city on Tuesday closing roads through the use of sandbags.All these issues make the situation in the country still extremely volatile while the security problem remains prevalent and will need to be addressed to ensure that the elections do not plunge the country into new unrest