POSTPONEMENT OF LIBYAN ELECTIONS: UNMATCHED STABILITY IN THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE
Eleven years have passed since the collapse of the Gaddafi Regime in Libya in 2011. December 24, 2021 would have been a great opportunity for the emergence of a democratic environment in Libya, however, this reality never came into practice. It was expected that the elections would help usher in stability, however, the elections were postponed.
Libya, which was ruled by Muammar Gaddafi as a dictatorship for 42 years. After the death of Gaddafi on October 20, 2011, Libya experienced a transitional period. During the transitional period, elections were held on two periods, however, no positive result could be obtained from these elections. The first of these elections was held on 7 July 2012 and the second on 25 June 2014. After the first elections, there was no political stability in the country, and the security gap and economic problems continued. In the second election, the election results were annulled by the Constitutional Court on 7 November 2014, as the turnout rate remained was very low (18%). The cancellation of these elections led to increased tensions in the country. As such, it became more difficult to solve the problems. During this period, the biggest political movements were the Government of National Reconciliation under the leadership of Fayez al-Saraj and House of Representatives under the leadership of Khalifa Haftar. A series of meetings/conferences have been held with the support of international powers since the beginning of 2015 to resolve the disagreements between the parties. However, no positive results were obtained from this process. The bloody conflicts between the parties were stopped with the ceasefire agreement on 23 October 2020 under the leadership of the United Nations.
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LSDF) was established according to the ceasefire agreement. In January 2021, this Forum, consisting of delegates selected from various regions of Libya, convened in Founex Town, Vaud Canton, Switzerland. They aimed at establishing a temporary administration that would lead Libya to elections in the country’s 70th establishment year. The temporary management elections, which witnessed a very difficult process, lasted for five days (1-5 February 2021). As a result of the elections, a four-person Transitional Council was determined to govern the country. Muhammed Yunus el Menfi became the new leader of the Presidential Council and Abdulhamid Muhammed Dibeybe became the Prime Minister. The other two names in the Council were Musa al Koni and Abdullah Hussein al Lafi, the former Vice President of the Presidential Council. The National Unity Government (UBH), established by Prime Minister Dibeybe, started its duty on March 10, 2021 after receiving a vote of confidence. Later, the delegates convened by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Nyon, Switzerland, between 28 June and 02 July 2021, discussed the constitutional basis of the elections to be held on 24 December. However, the meeting organized by the United Nations Libya Support Mission (UNSMIL) did not yield any results. Therefore, the lack of consensus, shortly before the elections, revealed the possibility that the elections could not be held. The Libyan Supreme Election Board, which applied for participation in the elections, rejected the demands of twenty-five of the candidates. Among those whose candidacy was rejected were ousted President Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Seyfulislam Gaddafi, who was tried at the International Criminal Court, Khalifa Haftar, who was on trial for various crimes, and Prime Minister Abdulhamid Muhammed Dibeybe due to his position in the Transitional Council.
The elections, which were planned to be held on the 70th anniversary of Libya, could not be held due to the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s failure to reach a consensus on the constitution and the objections of a number of prominent Libyan citizens whose candidacy was canceled by the Supreme Election Board. The President of the Supreme Election Board, Imad Sayih, stated that the elections should be postponed for at least six months. It has been evaluated that the elections, which the Libyan people are longing for, can be held at a later date and only with a basic consensus.