Libya: Where Fortune Favors the Corrupt Who Control Wealth and Arms

Protesters Gather in Sebha in Support of Saif Qaddafi, Demanding Free and Fair Elections and an Impartial Judiciary

The electoral scene in Libya leaves no room for optimism for a better future in the foreseeable future. The main actors in the course of events are  armed force on the ground, political money, and abuse of influence. Of course, those who possess wealth, power and weapons take precedence. As for people of good will, the situation is not suitable for their aspirations, especially since the slogans of freedom, democracy, pluralism, integrity and transparency, and the promises of the United Nations and the international community are nothing but a basket. It is an illusion, which cannot be disposed of in reality.

Everything that is going on in Libya at present confirms that the presidential elections are facing major challenges. Perhaps it is fortunate for the UN envoy, Jan Kubis, that he will leave his post on the tenth of December. The contenders for the position of head of state seem closer to competing for the presidency of regions, the rule of governorates or municipalities, or the leadership of tribes or clans. As for Libya’s vast geography, which exceeds an area of ​​1,750,000 square kilometers, none of the candidates for its presidency can move between its borders and roam its regions freely; Neither Haftar can move to Tripoli, Misrata, Zawiya, or the Nafusa Mountains, nor can Dabaiba go around Tobruk, Derna, or Benghazi easily, nor can Saif al-Islam Qaddafi come out of his hiding place to roam between cities and villages.

What happened in Sebha is evidence that what is happening in Libya currently has nothing to do with freedom, democracy or popular will.

The court was prevented from convening to announce its decision regarding the appeal request submitted by Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, against the action taken against him by the Electoral Commission, And the judge excluded him from the race as a result of pressure from  government authorities, and from internal and external forces that see that allowing Saif al-Islam to compete may reshuffle the cards once and for all, given the wide popular base he enjoys.

The electoral law stipulates that candidacy files for the presidential elections are to be submitted to three regional administrations affiliated to the commission, located in Tripoli (west), Benghazi (east) and Sebha (south), and that appeals be submitted within the administration in which the contested candidate submitted his eligibility to run. When Saif al-Islam surprised everyone by submitting his candidacy file in Sebha, the Supreme Judicial Council intervened to amend the law to allow the petitioners to submit their appeals wherever they wanted, but only two days later the Council retracted and restored the legal situation as it became clear that the attempt to use the amendment to challenge the the candidacy of Haftar or Saif al-Islam in Tripoli, Misrata and al-Zawiya, for example, will benefit the opposite party in submitting appeals against the candidate Abdel Hamid al-Dabaiba, who is considered one of the most prominent violators of the law on the election of the president.

Everyone realized that Dabaiba had placed his hand on all the judicial, administrative, security and service agencies in the west of the country, and was able to take advantage of his position as head of the government to win over debts and influence by relying on the capabilities of the state, and during the past months he worked day and night for one goal, which is to reach the position of president And enabling the lobby it represents to extend its influence over Libya and its vast wealth in the absence of a constitution that could limit its powers and authorities.

Dabaiba submitted his candidacy file, in violation of Article 12 of the law, as he trampled on his previous commitments before the political dialogue forum in Geneva, and was satisfied with managing the transitional phase and preparing for elections without running in them, and he did not give up his position as prime minister three months before the scheduled vote for the twenty-fourth of December  which was against the law. He also has a second nationality of St. Kitts in the Caribbean, however, the Electoral Commission did not dare to exclude him from the race, which  reminded observers of what was published weeks ago of secret data about a meeting Dabaiba held with political, social and militia actors in his hometown of Misrata. It stated that he would run for the presidency and that he had arrangements with the head of the commission, Imad al-Sayeh that he will win the post of president.

The commission also did not dare question Khalifa Haftar’s right to run because of his second US citizenship, but it targeted Qaddafi’s son, claiming that a court ruling had been issued against him, although it is not final as stipulated in that law, and it was overturned by Supreme Court months ago. It may not differ in anything from the death sentence issued against Field Marshal Haftar in Misrata, in that it reflects the nature of the struggle for power and influence since 2011 and reveals the spirit of revenge and the desire to exclude the other.

Saif al-Islam submitted a request to the Appeals Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Sebha with to appeal the decision of the Commission, and a ruling was expected to return him to the race, as happened with other candidates. But when the moment of response came, armed men affiliated with the army led by Field Marshal Haftar surrounded the court, and direct threats reached the judges, and the situation continued in a way that exposed that Haftar did not want Saif al-Islam to compete with him for the presidency, and that he considered Sebha part of his vast area of ​​influence.

In Libya, the Appeals Committee was forced to resign from its mission, and the UN mission was unable to continue ignoring the incident, especially after demonstrators came out in the city to express their refusal to try to control the judiciary and influence its rulings related to electoral merit.

In Tripoli, the Appeals Chamber of the Court of Appeal accepted the two appeals against Dabaiba’s candidacy, one of which was submitted by the former Minister of the Interior and his friend and son of his city, Fathi Bashagha, and announced a decision to exclude him from the competition for the position of Head of State, but all indications confirm that there are arrangements taking place behind the scenes, and that the court is part of a scenario prepared by specialists to convince public opinion at home and abroad that everything is going according to the law and respect for the judiciary and that Dabaiba is not an exception.

 Saif al-Islam Qaddafi is not allowed to compete for the position of president, given the fear of the rest of the parties of his victory as a result of the wide popular base he enjoys. His candidacy is characterized by not having an armed force on the ground like the other two parties, namely the army in the east led by Haftar, and the militias in the west of the country, which are supposed to be under the existing authority.

Among those issues is that Dabaiba will not give up the competition for the position of president, and he will inevitably return to the list of candidates. Some parties within the Commission have begun to promote the principle of postponement, even for a few days, and regional countries, including Turkey and Italy, are working in this context.

And in the event that Dabaiba wins, the East will reject him. If Haftar wins, the West will not accept him. None of them can extend the influence of his authority over the entire country, and it would be natural for the situation to be frozen as it is, and the schedule for the evacuation of foreign forces and mercenaries to be abandoned.

The biggest mistake the international community has made is insisting on organizing presidential elections in a country that is still torn apart, and most of the candidates for the post are virtually unable to move around most of the country, and are rejected by the active forces on the ground. It was supposed to focus  first and foremost about dissolving militias, collecting weapons, unifying the military institution, evacuating foreign militants, declaring comprehensive national reconciliation, and gathering all parties under one roof to announce the inauguration of a new phase in which each of them accepts what it will produce political leaders and government authorities.

As for the current scene, it is closer to surrealism, and everything that will result from it will be absurd, preserving the interests of those in control of the keys to the treasury in return for the continued disintegration of the state and the suffering of the people.

Al Arab

Translation by Internationalist 360°