Situation Growing Confrontational as ‘Status Quo Forces’ Use Diverse Tactics to Obstruct Conduct of Polls, Special Representative Says
The Security Council stressed today the importance of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya, scheduled for 24 December, urging Libyan authorities and institutions to clarify the constitutional basis for the polls, in a presidential statement adopted at the end of a ministerial-level meeting on restoring peace and stability in the North African nation.
Through the text (document S/PRST/2021/12), presented by France, Council President for July, the 15-member organ called on the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum to take steps to facilitate the elections and welcomed efforts by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to encourage the Forum to develop proposals for a fair, free and inclusive electoral process.
It urged all Member States, Libyan parties and relevant actors to fully implement the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya without delay. It also reiterated its grave concern at the dire situation faced by migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons in Libya; recalled that all Member States shall comply with the arms embargo; welcomed the completion of an independent audit of Libya’s Central Bank; and reaffirmed its intention to ensure that assets frozen under its resolution 1970 (2011) shall be made available “at a later stage” for the benefit of the Libyan people.
Today’s meeting, which came on the heels of the Second Berlin Conference on Libya in June, unfolded amidst growing concern that the much-anticipated elections — which would coincide with the seventieth anniversary of Libya’s independence — might not happen on time, due to divisions within the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, which held five days of in-person talks in Geneva that ended on 2 July. [The Forum’s Proposals Bridging Committee is to convene on 16-17 July in a virtual format.]
“The situation in Libya is getting more difficult, confrontational and tense,” with status quo forces — old and new — using diverse tactics to obstruct the holding of elections, Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative of Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission, told the Council. If this impasse over the constitutional basis for elections is not quickly resolved, and if leaders fail to demonstrate political will, then the positive momentum seen just a few months ago will be reversed, he warned.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, speaking in his national capacity, said that the international community must act to address real threats to Libya’s political transition. The electoral calendar must be respected, while foreign forces and mercenaries — whose presence violates Council resolutions as well as Libya’s sovereignty — must withdraw, he added.
Othman Jerandi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, welcomed Libya’s commitment to holding elections in December, as scheduled, and urged all political parties to engage in constructive dialogue. He stressed the need for ongoing commitment to the ceasefire agreement and Council resolutions in order to build trust. He also called for a Libyan mechanism to monitor implementation of the ceasefire, with support from the United Nations.
Niger’s representative said that steps must be taken to prevent the Sahel from being struck, for a second time, by the consequences of conflict in Libya. He recommended the structured and orderly withdrawal of foreign fighters and expressed concern over the ill treatment of African refugees and migrants who find themselves detained in Libya after attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
The United States’ representative said a political solution in Libya is possible, necessary and urgent, but it requires that elections be held on December 24 as planned. She emphasized that the electoral process must be Libyan-owned, Libyan-led and free from foreign interference or malign influence.
The Russian Federation’s representative said that his country is cautiously optimistic about the situation in Libya, as opposing forces overcome mutual mistrust stemming from a conflict provoked by external intervention in 2011. Implementing the road map leading to elections is not easy, but a framework must be adopted in order for voting to proceed on 24 December, he said.
Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity of Libya, took the floor near the end of the meeting, emphasizing that there now is a glimmer of hope for his country, whose people are entitled to elections on 24 December. He requested the Council to help secure the immediate withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters. Their presence is unacceptable and poses a real risk to the political process and the ceasefire agreement. He also asked the Council to consider easing its freeze on Libyan assets and for the root causes of migration through Libya from other African countries to be addressed.
Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives of Kenya, India, United Kingdom, Estonia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ireland, Viet Nam, Norway, China, Mexico and Germany.
The Secretary General of the League of Arab States also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:27 p.m.