Libya is facing a crisis that could spark instability and lead to the formation of parallel Governments if left unresolved, the United Nations political affairs chief warned the Security Council today, as she laid out the significant efforts being deployed by the United Nations to foster agreement on a constitutional basis for the holding of elections as soon as possible.
“As long as the standoff over executive legitimacy continues, Libya could again see two parallel administrations,” Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo warned, dealing a “severe blow” to the prospect of elections, which were originally set for December 2021.
Following their postponement, she said the country’s House of Representatives and High State Council focused on appointing a new interim Government and charting a process to both amend the 2017 Constitutional Proposal and forge a path towards elections. On 10 February, the House adopted the twelfth Constitutional Amendment, reportedly after achieving consensus with the High State Council, calling for the appointment by 24 February of a Constitutional Review Committee, representing the three regions of Libya. The Review Committee never materialized.
Also on 10 February, she said the House, with the endorsement of 52 High State Council members, designated Fathi Bashagha, a former Minister of Interior, to form a new Government. However, on 24 February, the High State Council rejected the formation of a new Government and the twelfth Constitutional Amendment. On 3 March, members of Mr. Bashagha’s Cabinet were nevertheless sworn in by the House of Representatives. Government of National Unity leaders have rejected the vote’s legitimacy, while Mr. Bashagha, meanwhile, insists he is heading the legitimate Government.
“Our priority is to focus on fulfilling the aspirations of the more than 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote,” she explained. “They should be able to choose their leaders through credible, transparent, and inclusive elections according to an agreed-upon constitutional and legal framework.”
She said the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser is holding consultations with a broad cross section of Libya’s political and security actors and civil society, while the United Nations more broadly aims to convene a joint committee of members from the House of Representatives and the High State Council to reach agreement on a constitutional basis for the holding of elections in 2022.
Jazia Jibril Mohammed Shuaiter, briefing the Council as a member of Libya’s civil society, noted that she is a candidate in her country’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Libyan authorities lack legitimacy, having been elected nearly eight years ago. Libyans have since lost confidence in their leaders and are eagerly awaiting new, inclusive elections free from corruption and outside influence.
“The Libyan people are deprived of their inherent right to hold a referendum … due to the intransigence of political parties,” she stressed. She urged the Council to deploy election monitors to ensure such a process takes place.
T.S. Tirumurti (India), also updated the Council as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011) concerning Libya, reporting on activities related to the arms embargo, assets freeze, the prevention of illicit petroleum exports and the sanctions list, between 25 January and 16 March 2022.
In the ensuing dialogue, delegates focused on the impact of the crisis on people’s visions for their future, with Gabon’s representative, speaking also for Ghana and Kenya, noting that his delegation had repeatedly heard their desire for a secure environment to pursue their social and political aspirations. He encouraged all parties to use mediation channels offered by the United Nations, the African Union, neighbouring States and other partners of goodwill.
“While Libya lurches between political crises, it’s the Libyan people who continue to suffer from a lack of proper service delivery, an unstable economy and fragile security,” the United Kingdom’s delegate stressed. He urged Libya’s political leaders to seriously address the conditions that prevented elections from going ahead in December 2021, a point similarly echoed by the United States representative who said: “Libyans have demanded elections, not endless arguments among elites and the well-armed.” He expressed strong support for the arms embargo, and denounced all foreign military intervention in Libya, including through proxies and mercenaries.
On that point, the Russian Federation’s delegate voiced concern that steps to staunch armed hostilities are not being taken by the parties, that heavy weapons have not been withdrawn and that military units have not been redeployed. He advocated for a synchronized, balanced, steady, phased withdrawal of all non-Libyan armed units, adding that Libya’s assets must be safeguarded and not capitalized upon for the enrichment of Western States.
Others similarly issued a call to all actors, internal and external, to refrain from moves that could threaten hard-won gains made over the last two years. The representative of the United Arab Emirates, Council President for March, spoke in his national capacity to call for the phased withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries. He commended Libya’s security forces for confronting Da’esh terrorist elements in the southern part of the country.
Rounding out the debate, Libya’s delegate warned that “we are at a dangerous crossroads”, as recent events are among the most complex and sensitive in the history of the conflict. All initiatives meant to resolve the impasse must focus on the holding of elections and abide by previous agreements.
He said the President of the Government of National Unity has put forward a plan to resolve the political impasse in line with the Secretary-General’s call for elections and the establishment of a constitutional framework. He called for the end of any foreign presence in Libya — an “unequivocal sovereign request” — and voiced regret that the Security Council had failed to find a solution to the crisis.
Also speaking today were representatives of Ireland, Brazil, Mexico, France, China, India, Norway and Albania.
The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 11:50 a.m.