Libya Presidential Election Called off amid Multitude of Disputes
By Staff, Agencies
The Libyan parliamentary committee in charge of overseeing the country’s first-ever presidential election scheduled for Friday has concluded that it will be impossible to hold the vote on time.
The committee did not name a new date, leaving the internationally-backed peace process in chaos and the fate of the interim government in doubt.
“After consulting the technical, judicial, and security reports, we inform you of the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of 24 December 2021 provided for by the electoral law,” the chairman of the committee wrote on Wednesday to the head of parliament.
It was the first official announcement of a delay, which had been widely expected amid ongoing disputes over the rules.
Following the announcement, Libya's High National Electoral Commission, which is charged with handling the practicalities of any vote, suggested postponing the first round of the presidential election until 24 January, according to a statement on its Facebook page.
Large numbers of Libyans had already registered for voting cards for the election in what politicians on all sides in Libya have said is a sign of the strong popular desire for a vote, Reuters reported.
Armed groups had been spotted throughout Libya’s capital city Tripoli early on Tuesday morning.
Images circulated on social media showed tanks and armed vehicles deployed on roads in southern Tripoli and blocking traffic.
Amid the deployment of military forces, the University of Tripoli and schools in the city’s south suspended classes, according to local news sources.
With the major mobilizations in Tripoli and other western areas by armed groups, the collapse of the electoral process risks aggravating local disputes and triggering a new round of violence.
Disputes over the path forward could also undo the wider UN-backed peace process between Libya's main eastern and western camps that have maintained a ceasefire since last year.
Factions, candidates, and foreign powers have been talking behind the scenes about whether an election can still take place with a short delay or whether a longer postponement is necessary to reach an agreement on the legal basis of the vote.
The parliament’s electoral committee’s statement on Wednesday added that the government's mandate would expire on Friday.