Libya is at a “critical time,” said the head of the country’s three-person presidential council, Mohammad Younes Menfi, on Thursday, adding that he will hold an international conference in October to rally support for the country’s stability.
Menfi warned in the UN General Assembly that Libya is facing “serious challenges” that could undermine the planned elections in December.
He said the conference would aim to ensure “uniform, consistent” international support and restore a sense of Libyan leadership and ownership of the country’s future.
“We are facing serious challenges and rapid developments, which force us – out of responsibility – to think of more realistic and practical options to avoid a stalemate in the political process, which in turn could undermine the upcoming elections and give us back to square one. one, he said.
National elections, scheduled for December 24, were held as a way to end Libya’s decadelong crisis, but have been embroiled in bitter arguments over legitimacy that could wind down a month-long peace process.
“Libya is at a critical time,” Menfi said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters in New York on Monday that France, Germany and Italy would host an international conference on Libya on November 12 to ensure that the election calendar remains in place.
In 2014, Eastern and Western factions split Libya in two in a civil war, with an internationally recognized government in Tripoli and a rival administration backed by the Eastern House of Representatives.
The December 24 election was mandated by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, a UN-elected assembly that set out a roadmap for peace in Libya, a major oil producer, by setting up a unity government and holding a nationwide vote.
Until the election, the assembly elected a three-member presidential council led by Menfi and installed Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah as prime minister of the caretaker government.
89 of the 113 lawmakers who attended the lower house in Tobruk in the eastern city voted to withdraw confidence from Dbeibah’s Tripoli – based administration on Tuesday.
But an upper house based in the capital rejected the vote, saying it violates established procedures and once again reveals the extent of the differences between the country’s east and west.
The latest escalation came amid tensions between the House of Representatives and the Dbeibah government, which took office earlier this year with a mandate to guide the North African country to elections on December 24. These votes seem increasingly unlikely to take place during the escalating political quarrel, to doubt a UN-led process aimed at ending a decade of violence since the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
But Dbeibah insisted on Tuesday that elections must take place.
“I reaffirm our determination to continue what we have begun,” he said in the western city of Zawiya.
“I say no to war, yes to elections for a united Libya.”
Tuesday’s vote in the lower house, in a closed session overseen by speaker Aguila Saleh, came less than two weeks after he outraged opponents by ratifying an electoral law seen as circumventing a proper process and favoring East-based putschist General Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar had committed a year-long attack on Tripoli and left thousands dead before reaching a formal ceasefire with his Western opponents in October last year.
Following the no-confidence vote, Haftar announced on Wednesday that he was interrupting his military activities, a step that could lead to his candidacy in elections later this year.
While the subsequent UN-led peace process has led to a period of calm, hassles over electoral laws and the presence of foreign forces have complicated moves towards more permanent peace.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed concern over Tuesday’s developments and called on Parliament “and all relevant institutions and political actors to remain focused on completing the preparations for the constitutional and legislative framework” for the December 24 vote.
The transitional administration “remains the legitimate government until it is replaced by another government through a regular post-election process”, UNSMIL added.