Written by Piero Messina
White flag. The National High Electoral Commission also surrendered, announcing the postponement of the Libyan elections. When will they vote in Libya? The commission is attempting to postpone the elections until January 24th. But thirty days is absolutely insufficient time to restore the conditions for a democratic and free vote. On the other hand, it was Imad Al-Sayeh himself, president of Hnec, who dissolved the work of the electoral commission. With a letter to the Commission’s Directorate-General, he ordered to “dissolve the electoral committees of the HNEC ‘s offices in the country, ending their work and submitting their reports for the year 2021”. In reality it is not possible to predict a concrete date.
For international diplomacy it is an unprecedented defeat. A defeat announced just a month ago by the sudden resignation of Jan Kubis, the United Nations special envoy to Libya. Kubis had resigned as after world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris pressed the Libyans to proceed with “free, fair, inclusive and credible presidential and parliamentary elections” on Dec. 24. Kubis knew it would be impossible to hold the elections.
Someone should have informed US President Joe Biden of the debacle. While international diplomacy tries to recompose the pieces of the Libyan disaster, good old Joe has found nothing better to do, than to send a letter to Libyan President Al Manfi, certainly one of the major culprits of the current institutional collapse of the North African country. In his statement, Biden has congratulated all Libyans on the anniversary of Libya’s Independence Day, which falls on December 24. The day of missed election. If we didn’t know Joe well, it would just seem like a sick prank.
The word goes back to politics and the military forces sharing control of Libya. For the electoral commission of the Libyan parliament, chaired by Al-Hadi Al-Saghi, it is necessary to define a new road map for the electoral process. Al Saghi, in the note sent to the president of parliament Aguila Saleh asks “the end of the Government of National Unity’s (GNU) mandate as a caretaker government”. The parliament, therefore, is asking for a new government to be stopped to take the place of Ahmed Dbeibah (head of government) and Al Manfi (prime minister).
Dbeibah and Al Manfi are the men who have led Libya since the end of the Geneva Forum, when their candidacy for the highest positions in the country prevailed over the ticket formed by Aguila Saleh and Fatih Bashaga, former interior minister. Al Manfi tries to maintain his role and for this reason, he continues to meet Libyan and international political leaders. After meeting the Egyptian President Al Sisi in Cairo, as soon as he returned to Tripoli he organized a meeting with Stephanie Williams, the US diplomat who heads the Unsmil mission. Thus, while the fate of the head of the Dbeibah government is sealed (his mandate ends with the date of December 24), Al Manfi could remain at the presidency of the country. Legally, it is up to the head of the Presidential Council, Mohammed el-Menfi, to continue to govern Libya after 24 December. The Libyan president is the only one with a mandate that allows him to issue decrees and appoint interim ministers in the absence of the premier.
A situation that soundes ridicule. In fact, precisely because of a decision taken by the offices of Al Manfi, the military had returned to the streets of Tripoli. In mid-December, the Presidential Council announced the appointment of Major General Abdel Qader Mansour as commander of the Tripoli Military District, succeeding the previous commander, Abdel Baset Marwan. Now, this decision has also been postponed. The Presidential Council (PC) has decided to postpone the appointment of a new commander for the Tripoli Military District. The PC information office said that the Director of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Office of the Libyan Army, Salah Omran Younis directed a letter to Major General Abdel Qader Mansour to inform him of the postponement of Resolution No. 55 of 2021 regarding his appointment as commander of the Tripoli Military District until further notice, based on the instructions of the PC, in his capacity as Supreme Commander of the Army.
A step back that has not brought calm to the Libyan capital. According to the online newspaper Libya Observer, troops are moving towards a new military mobilization in the capital. Since last tuesday has seen morning unusual military mobilization in different parts of the city, including blocking roads of Shara’a Al-Zawiya and Bab Benghashir as well as Ain Zara and Khallet Al-Furjan in south Tripoli, causing tensions and sending signals of possible armed clashes. The mobilization came as a rejection reaction to the dismissal of the Tripoli Military Zone commander Abdelbaset Marwan, knowing that some of the armed factions warned they could use force if the Presidential Council didn’t reinstate Marwan to his previous position. We do not go towards descalation. Eyewitnesses from Ain Zara said there was military mobilization and sand berms across the area, in addition to some reinforcements in Tariq Al-Shouk and Al-Sidra, not to mention the footage of military convoys coming toward Tripoli from West Mountain region.
The military forces of Misrata are also ready to move towards the capital. The rivalry was even more inflamed by news of a meeting in Benghazi between General Haftar, former Minister of the Whole Bashaga and former Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq.
Signs of war are also coming from Ankara. Turkey has restarted military supplies. Italian radar site ‘FlightRadar24’, which specializes in monitoring military aircraft, reported that a Turkish military cargo aircraft landed in western Libya. Turkey is believed to control a number of military bases in western Libya, the largest of which is Al-Watiya.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Military Situation In Libya On December 19, 2021 (Map Update)
- Libya, All Against Gaddafi. A Saleh Bashaga Interim Government To Avoid Elections And Chaos