Libya: Abdoulaye Bathily’s Proposals Cannot Succeed

Habib Lassoued
UN Envoy, Abdoulaye Bathily

There is nothing to suggest that the initiative of the UN envoy to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, can open the doors of a solution to the worsening crisis. His initiative is immature, incomplete, and closest to the bitter fruit of a desperate situation in which the international community is floundering, a situation that has existed for 12 years in the Arab-African country that stretches over 2000 km along the southern bank of the Mediterranean.

Bathily considered that there must be a high-level dialogue between the security agencies in order to reach an agreement to ensure the security of the elections, and the freedom of movement of candidates during the election campaign in all regions of Libya. But his words leave the circle of constructive expression and introspection of wishes without an actual plan to introduce his electoral program in areas of influence which continue to stand firmly against national reconciliation, the return of displaced persons and the release of prisoners and captives.

As for the issue of the code of good conduct, it has nothing to do with the nature of the power struggle. In 2021 the Election Commission put forward a code of Conduct for candidates who signed it when submitting their candidacy files, but to no avail. The real confrontation goes beyond moral slogans, which was confirmed especially by the denial of the outgoing head of the national unity government, Abdul Hamid al-Dbaiba, after his pledge at the dialogue forum not to run for merit, and his leadership of a war that ended with the cancellation of elections for December 25.

Bathily presented a broad plan that is no different from what his predecessors came up with, a set of conclusions repeated in daily speeches, comments and statements from various internal Libyan parties and officials at home and in neighboring countries, as well as in the international community at large. This reveals that he has no new vision on which to base the logical and practical foundations of a solution, namely the unification of state institutions based on the central authorities, the disbanding of militias, the evacuation of foreign troops and mercenaries and the provision of an appropriate security framework for the organization of general, inclusive and fair elections, with results that would be recognized and accepted by all.

If Bathily tried to emphasize that the endless transitional governments, legitimate bodies whose mandates have expired, are the cause of the instability of this country and prolong this situation, warning that this will only lead to political turmoil, economic crises, undermining the integrity of Libya and the unity of its people, his words did not go far.

Before him, Stephanie Williams, Ghassan Salama, Jan Kubis and others held critical positions regarding political actors in the Libyan arena, without succeeding in changing reality. Aqila Saleh, Khalifa Haftar, Khaled Al-Mishri, warlords, militia leaders and thieves of public money have remained in their posts while the UN, which has changed its envoys on nine occasions, continues to hold conferences and launch initiatives to little avail.

Bathily wanted to put pressure on the House of Representatives and the Supreme Council of state to agree on a constitutional base, which is still a stumbling block in the face of entitlement, but no one knows exactly to what extent this pressure may be feasible, or how it will ensure the cooperation of both houses.

The members of the GNC elected in 2012 still participate in the legislative power through the so-called Supreme Council of State, which was enshrined in the Skhirat agreement in December 2015. The House of Representatives still adheres to its legitimacy, although it was last elected in 2014. The government of reconciliation headed by Faiz Al-Sarraj continued in power for five years, although it was tasked with governing for no more than two. The government of national unity headed by Dbaiba exceeded its legal mandate according to the agreement of the political dialogue forum for the year 2020.

 Most of the militias and armed groups in the western region are still exerting their influence on the ground exclusionary towards anyone who disagrees with their leaders.

According to experience, those who seem more welcoming of the UN initiatives and the proposed political solutions are the ones who work the hardest to ensure their failure, especially when they are in the centers of governance and political decision, which can be explained by their desire to preserve privileges of power and booty – and attitude that prevailed in Arab Spring countries, most notably Libya, a rich nation where the struggle for its rule was most fierce.

The UN envoy’s focus on the need to organize elections this year is part of his daily routine and vocabulary, while there are no real indications of the possibility of providing appropriate conditions for eligibility.

Dbaiba is determined to remain in power for many years. Warlords and political Islam groups are committed not to organize elections in which Haftar or Saif al-Islam Qaddafi participate. Then there are the real influencers in the Libyan scene, the actual decision-makers from the financial sphere who have the final say on all files put forward. And they have counterparts in more than one region at home and abroad.

In addition to these, there are decision-makers in Western capitals who insist that only those who follow in its orbit and pledge to serve its interests should run for leadership positions, especially in light of the intensification of the struggle for influence in a region marked by the expansion of the circle of Chinese influence and Russian presence.

Translation by Internationalist 360°

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