Libyan Parliamentarians Fail to Agree on New Date for Delayed Polls

Libya’s parliament on Monday couldn’t reach an agreement to fix a date for the presidential elections initially scheduled for December 24, heightening concerns over the fate of the poll.

The poll was intended as the climax of United Nations-led efforts to drag Libya out of a decade of conflict since a 2011 revolt. It was however derailed by contention over legal framework and divisive disputes among candidates.

On Monday the parliamentary committee charged with overseeing the election presented a report saying it would be risky to set a new date at this stage.

Many observers see this, as an affront towards the electoral commission which had recommended holding the vote on January 24.

The parliamentary committee is part of an assembly based in eastern Libya since 2014, reflecting the country’s deep divisions.

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The committee recommended laying out “a new, realistic and applicable roadmap, with defined stages, rather than fixing new dates and repeating the same errors”.

UN special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams implored lawmakers to “urgently address” challenges leveled by the High National Elections Commission “to push the electoral process forward.”

A few protesters converged outside the parliament’s headquarters in Tobruk, calling for holding the vote as soon as possible. They held placards with slogans including: “The Libyan people reject the election postponement.”

The committee president Al-Haid al-Sghayer read the report to the members of the committee, suggesting that a committee to draft a new constitution to replace the one scrapped by dictator Muammar Gadhafi in 1969, be constituted.

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It also called for a reshuffle of the interim government of Abdulhamid Dbeibah, whose mandate was meant to end with Friday’s elections. The parliament has yet to debate the proposals.

Dbeibah heads a unity administration based in the capital Tripoli, in the country’s west, and which was tasked with leading the North African country to the elections.

The vote, after a year of relative calm, was to have been Libya’s first ever direct presidential ballot.

But months of disputes finally saw the vote postponed just two days before it was to hold, when the committee overseeing the election declared holding it impossible on the scheduled date.

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At the time, the electoral commission was yet to announce a finalised list of candidates for the presidential poll. Its work was hobbled by court cases against the bids of several divisive figures.  

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