Libya to return to “square one” on elections

If Libya’s national elections scheduled for December are delayed, the war-torn country will return to “square one” and unrest in 2011, the speaker said, with a new rival government likely to set up in the east.

The election is seen in the West as a critical step in efforts to create stability in Libya, which has been in chaos since the NATO-backed uprising in 2011 against Muammar Gaddafi.

Libya, a major oil and gas producer, was divided in 2014 between an internationally recognized government in the West and a rival administration in the East that set up its own institutions.

A UN-led peace process led to a ceasefire last year after fighting between rival factions, and a unity government was formed in February and approved by parliament in March.

Aguila Saleh, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said he did not want to see a further split.

“If the election is delayed, we will go back to the front line,” Saleh told Reuters at his office in the eastern city of Qubah, warning that a new, parallel government could emerge in the east.

The purpose of the Government of National Unity (GNU) was to secure public services and lead the country to general elections on 24 December.

The peace process also led to a ceasefire in September following the collapse of a 14-month offensive by Putschist General Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Armistice urged all foreign forces and mercenaries to leave.

“The president is still the one who decides the issue of foreign forces and mercenaries in the country,” Saleh said, adding that there were difficulties in uniting the army due to external interference.

Saleh said GNU had failed to unite Libya’s institutions and had become a “Tripoli government” and demanded that it take care of the responsibilities of the two dissolved governments.

This month, UN-sponsored talks aimed at paving the way for elections failed. But Saleh said there was no need for the 75 committee members to meet.

“We have a constitutional declaration,” he said. “We do not have to go around wasting time. No negotiations.”

Saleh also said the government’s proposed budget of 100 billion dinars ($ 22.15 billion) was too large and he expected a figure of up to 80 billion dinars to be approved.


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