Libya’s HCS calls for delayed elections

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The head of Libya’s Supreme Council of State (HCS) Khalid al-Mishri demanded that the presidential election scheduled for December be postponed one year after the speaker of the pro-Putist general Khalifa Haftar’s parliament passed an election law without consultation.

According to a UN-mediated agreement between Libya’s rival eastern and western camps, the war-torn country is scheduled to hold legislative and presidential polls on December 24.

Earlier this month, the eastern representative of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, ratified a law for the presidential election, but he has been accused of not presenting a final version to the assembly for voting.

Saleh was accused of trying to push through legislation that benefits his eastern ally Haftar.

On Monday, the head of Tripoli-based HCS, al-Mishri, rejected legislation he said had been passed “without a legal vote or consensus.”

“We do not recognize that the House of Representatives has adopted a presidential election law,” al-Mishri told reporters.

Presidential elections “would not create stability in Libya at present,” al-Mishri added.

He said the HCS proposed parliamentary elections on December 24 as agreed at UN talks, but with another year to reach an agreement on a new constitution before setting a date for presidential elections.

“Our hands reach for dialogue, but the HoR (lower house) cannot simply pass laws on its own,” al-Mishri said.

Critics of Saleh’s move have pointed to a clause stipulating that military officials may run in presidential elections provided they leave office three months in advance.

It would allow for a president-led warlord, Haftar, whose forces control eastern Libya, where parliament is based, as well as parts of the south.

Haftar reached a UN-mediated ceasefire with Western Libyan forces in October last year after a year-long attack on the capital that left thousands dead.

A year of cessation of violence and a UN-led transition process have raised hopes that Libya can move forward after a decade of violence that followed the fall and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in a 2011 uprising.

But analysts have warned that several obstacles, including failure to agree on electoral laws and the presence of foreign forces on both sides, could still spread chances of peace.

Haftar is accused of war crimes because he used mines that injured civilians, which is a war crime when used indiscriminately.

Following the defeat of Haftar’s forces in the western parts of Libya, the Libyan government has discovered about 300 bodies in mass graves in Tarhuna and south of Tripoli.

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