Libyan factions agree to hold elections in six months despite deep divisions
Getting the leaders into one room was in itself a great achievement
The leaders of rival Libyan factions agreed Tuesday to work together on a legal framework for holding presidential and parliamentary elections in December, in a deal being pushed by President Emmanuel Macron of France to bring stability to Libya and stem the flow of migrants to Europe from its shores.
It was latest of numerous international efforts to find a political solution to the chaos plaguing Libya since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. But analysts said the election timetable was extremely optimistic and that the agreement, as with previous efforts, risked being undermined by opposition from armed groups on the ground.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Libyan leaders will set election rules by mid-september, hold the vote on December 10, and ensure that voters and candidates remain safe. The leaders also agreed to eventually streamline their parallel government structures and merge their armed forces and other security entities.
Power in Libya is divided between two rival governments, in the east and west of the country, and a plethora of armed groups that pledge allegiance to either administration, or to none.
President France described the agreement as “historic” and essential to the “security and stabil- ity of the Libyan people.”
The French president has tried to carve out a role for himself as a mediator in the Middle East and a proponent of multilateral agreements.
Getting the leaders in the same room was an achievement in itself, analysts said, but translating that into concrete efforts to rein in armed groups and stabilise the country remains a daunting task.
In a sign of the difficulties ahead, none of the leaders in Paris signed Tuesday’s agreement. When asked about it, president Macron said the leaders wanted to discuss it with their supporters back home. But then he cut through the diplomatic language to acknowledge a larger issue.
“You have here the presidents of institutions that do not recognise each other,” president Macron said.
“Each and every one denied the existence of the institutions that the others represented and their legitimacy. That is the difficulty of Libya’s current situation.”
The factional leaders in Paris included Prime Minister Fayez al-sarraj of the Un-backed unity government in Tripoli; Gen Khalifa Hifter, whose forces control much of the country’s east; Khalid Mishri, the newly elected head of the High Council of State, which is an advisory body to the Government of National Accord led by Sarraj; and Aguila Saleh Issa, the Speaker of the Tobrukbased House of Representatives.
UN officials — who have been working with a wider group on a plan to adopt a new constitution, call elections and bring stability — also participated in the Paris meeting, as did representatives of 20 countries, including Libya’s
Libya remains a fragmented polity with multiple potential spoilers.” International Crisis Group
Some of the rival Libyan leaders at the Paris meeting where they are pushing for a political settlement in their country.