UN official warns Libya must unify government to hold credible elections News
© WikiMedia (Bryn Jones)
UN official warns Libya must unify government to hold credible elections

Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Abdoulaye Bathily warned on Thursday that Libya’s political stakeholders must form a unified government to hold credible national elections. Bathily stated that the lack of a political agreement amongst the country’s political stakeholders on forming a unified government may compromise unity and disintegrate Libya.

Libya plunged into chaos with competing militias ruling different regions after a NATO-backed revolt in 2011. The country’s planned election on December 24, 2021 was aborted over disagreements of the eligibility of major candidates. Bathily said on June 19, 2023 that the electoral reform initiatives proposed by Libya’s High Council of State and House of Representatives did not resolve controversial issues.

Bathily urged Libyan authorities to lift the ban on activities of the High National Elections Commission to allow the commission to prepare for local elections. He urged political stakeholders to resolve the issues that hindered the 2021 elections through a political settlement and urged all political stakeholders to contribute to the effort without listing preconditions.

Bathily said that the UNSMIL aims to bring stability to Libya by supporting the country’s political stakeholders to reach a peaceful settlement. He also said that the UN is keen to consider suggestions that could lead to the peaceful and inclusive settlement of Libya’s political stakeholders. Furthermore, Bathily urged members of the international community to press the country’s political stakeholders to work towards the peaceful settlement. He wrote:

This Council and the international community have a critical role to play to press the Libyan parties to engage constructively in this process. Alignment and support from regional partners are particularly important. I therefore reiterate my call for a unified and coordinated approach by all members of the international community. Parallel initiatives can only be useful if they support the UN efforts, lest they be used by Libyan actors as a means to perpetuate the status quo.

Meanwhile, US Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs in the UN Robert Wood expressed concern over the influence Libya’s armed groups have on the country’s politics and security. He called on Libya to “[take] steps toward military reunification that could help reduce criminality in the south, secure Libya’s borders [] and prevent spillover of regional turmoil.”

Previously on August 15, 2023, the UNSMIL called for violence to cease immediately between the powerful military forces of the 444 Brigade and Special Deterrence Force in Tripoli, Libya. The UNSMIL stated that the outbreak of violence started when a commander of the 444 Brigade was captured by the Special Deterrence Force.