Presidential Council calls for simultaneous elections in Libya

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The Libyan Presidency Council called on the authorities to hold presidential and legislative elections simultaneously next month.

In a statement, the council called for taking all measures to ensure a “comprehensive electoral process” with a view to building confidence between the parties and ensuring “the transparency and fairness of the ballots”.

The statement also underlined the importance of international efforts to secure and monitor the electoral process.

The council’s appeal comes amid differences and disagreements over electoral laws between parliament, the High Council of State and the unity government.

Participants at an international conference in Paris on Libya on Friday threatened sanctions against parties seeking to obstruct or undermine Libya’s political transition.

Libyan Transitional Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah told a press conference that conference participants agreed to sanction those who refuse to accept the election results.

Presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya are scheduled to take place on December 24 as part of a UN-sponsored deal struck by political rivals Libya at meetings in Tunisia on November 15, 2020.

Libyans hope the upcoming elections will help end an armed conflict that has plagued the oil-rich country for years.

Libya’s first-ever direct presidential poll is the culmination of the peace process launched last year by the United Nations to end years of violence since the revolt that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Despite a year of relative peace after a ceasefire between the eastern and western camps, disputes over the legal basis of the elections threaten to derail the peace process. This raises fears of a return to violence in the event of a contested result.

Registration of candidates for the presidential election will be open until 22 November and for parliamentary candidates until 7 December at the offices of the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) in the three main cities of the west, eastern and southern Libya.

More than 2.8 million of Libya’s 7 million people have registered to vote.

“Everyone is worried about the respect of the election results,” Anas el-Gomati, director of the Libyan-based think tank, the Sadeq Institute, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He cited “fragile military conditions on the ground and the lack of preparation to organize free and fair elections in a state divided between rival military factions”.

Potential candidates include the putschist general Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the forces based in the east during the civil war, and Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi; the two are seen as deeply conflicting figures.

Former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha confirmed he would participate, including diplomats Aref al-Nayed and Ibrahim Dabbachi, and comedian Hatem al-Kour.

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