Will elections in Libya bring peace to the divided country?
‘Ambitious, and potentially unrealistic’ timetable agreed for first parliamentary vote since fall of Gaddafi
Rival Libyan factions have set a provisional date for the country’s first elections since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi over seven years ago.
The declaration agreed yesterday would create a political framework to pave the way for UN-backed parliamentary and presidential elections later this year, bringing to an end the country’s brutal civil war.
Libya has been in turmoil since the Nato-backed toppling of Gaddafi in 2011 at the height of the Arab Spring, and since 2014 has been divided between competing political and militia groups based in the capital Tripoli and the east.
The International Conference on Libya aimed at agreeing the framework for a lasting peace was held at the Elysee Palace in Paris. It was attended by the powerful eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar, Tripoli Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, and the leaders of rival parliamentary assemblies as well as the UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, French President Emmanuel Macron, and representatives from Libya’s neighbours, international powers and organisations.
France24 says “many analysts are sceptical that the initiative to invite four senior figures representing Libya's factions, as well as neighbouring countries and regional powers, can lead to significant progress” and called the peace conference a “risky French-backed push for a political settlement in the country”.
Past attempts at peace deals in Libya “have often been scuttled by internal divisions among the country’s armed groups and by the different countries backing the local actors”, Reuters says.
This time round appears to be different however, with all parties agreeing to a declaration which calls for the immediate unification of the central bank and the phasing out of parallel government institutions.
It also makes a commitment to support the creation of a national army and, most crucially, a commitment “to set the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral laws by September 16, 2018 and hold Parliamentary and Presidential elections on December 10, 2018”, the joint-statement said.
The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour described the plan to stage “credible and peaceful” parliamentary and legislative elections in the country on 10 December, as “ambitious, and potentially unrealistic”.
Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed was more optimistic, saying that the elections in Libya could be part of a long-term solution, however, he added the process still has “a long way to go” as many of Haftar's opponents and other strong key players in Libya were not included in the talks.