UN special representative claims Libya electoral reforms fall short of aims News
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UN special representative claims Libya electoral reforms fall short of aims

UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, noted in his briefing to the UN Security Council on Monday that despite a Libyan joint committee’s progressive efforts to finalize Libya’s electoral laws, the initiatives fall short of resolving some contentious issues. The House of Representatives and High Council established the joint committee—known as the 6+6 Committee—to create new electoral laws tailored to the needs of Libyans. However, as Bathily points out, the proposed law leaves many questions unanswered.

Bathily identified four main causes of concern that sparked intense debate over the flaws in the draft legislation. These concerns include the requirements for running in the presidential election, a clause stating that parliamentary elections won’t be held if the presidential election fails in the first round, and a clause mandating the installation of a new interim government prior to elections. Additionally, even if a candidate receives more than the minimum number of votes necessary to win, the draft electoral laws contain a clause that mandates a second round of voting in presidential elections.

According to Bathily:

The eligibility criteria for presidential elections, the linkage between presidential and parliamentary elections, and the issue of forming a new unified government are highly contentious and require, first and foremost, a political agreement among the major stakeholders and key constituencies across the Libyan political spectrum. Short of this, related provisions in the laws would surely remain unimplementable and might even trigger a new crisis.

Bathily also urged additional political stakeholders to discuss bolstering electoral laws. Furthermore, Bathily recommended political players to address the issue of gender representation, pointing out that current regulations enable only 6 out of 90 seats to be reserved for women, despite the existence of a clause mandating at least 20 percent representation in the House of Representatives be held by women.

In an effort to correct the defective electoral rules, Bathily has met with numerous parties, including the High Council of State (HCS), the House of Representatives (HoR), the Government, the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) and the High Judicial Council. Various stakeholders, including lawyers, civil organizations, the Libyan National Army and the Joint Military Commission 5+5, made significant contributions to the drafting of the new electoral laws.

Bathily previously suggested that Libya’s elections might be held by the end of this year if a definitive plan and electoral regulations were produced by June. However, the political climate in Libya regarding general elections remains unpredictable.

The December 2021 election was called off due to disagreements on the eligibility of the major candidates, putting an end to the political effort to end the protracted conflict. Bathily launched a fresh effort by establishing a steering committee to oversee the elections and promote long-term peace. The HCS and the HoR elected to form a joint committee to write electoral regulations in March. The draft electoral reforms reviewed by Bathily were the result of that committee’s work.

Since the NATO-backed revolt in 2011, Libya has been in turmoil with competing militias ruling different regions. The most recent conflict ended in 2020. The legitimacy of the interim government formed in 2021 has also faced scrutiny.