Abdoulaye Bathily, UN Special Representative for Libya, told ambassadors on the Security Council that the mood in the country “is ripe for a new political deal, a new dispensation for a brighter future”.
“One group of unwilling officials clinging to their seats must not be allowed to fail the people of Libya and put the region at the risk of further chaos,” he stressed.
Libya has remained mired in crisis since the postponement of national elections, originally planned for December 2021.
The impasse between rivals Government of National Unity (GNU) based in Tripoli (in the west), and the eastern-based Government of National Stability (GNS) which is aligned with the House of Representatives (HoR) and the Libyan National Army (LNA).
The stalemate has been driving the country’s political, security and economic instability, including contributing to the scale of destruction and tragic loss of life caused by Storm Daniel in Derna and surrounding areas in September.
“I urge political leaders in the east and the west to recall the unity and solidarity shown by Libyans at the onset of the Derna crisis and establish a coordinated national platform for reconstruction in the best interests of people whose lives and livelihoods have been so severely affected by this disaster,” Mr. Bathily said.
New constitutional framework
Mr. Bathily, who also heads the UN Support Mission in the country (UNSMIL), told Council members that for the first time since elections were aborted in December 2021, Libya has a constitutional and legal framework for elections in place.
And, the framework is “considered technically implementable” by the High National electoral Commission.
“We need to build on this important achievement,” he said, noting that he had invited the leaders of the five institutions – the Presidential Council (PC), the HoR, High Council of State, the GNU and the LNA, to a meeting.
Preconditions by some actors
“I am pleased to report that none of the institutional players outrightly rejected my invitation,” Mr. Bathily added, explaining that some set out conditions for their participation.
While the PC showed “clear and concrete support” and the HCS submitted names of its representatives at a preparatory meeting, the Speaker of the HoR rejected the participation of GNU and called for the formation of a “new government for elections”.
The Prime Minister of the GNU also submitted names for the meeting, but categorically rejected any discussions of a “new government”.
The Commander of the LNA, General Haftar, is ready for dialogue, but has laid down the condition that the HoR-appointed Government takes part, Mr. Bathily said, “alternatively, he would accept to participate if both ‘governments’ were excluded.”
Human rights and security
Mr. Bathily also informed Council members that sporadic armed clashes and other security incidents continue to be recorded in each of the regions, while a ceasefire nonetheless holds.
He also voiced concerns over ongoing restriction of civic space and arbitrary detentions.
Over the last nine months, security actors arbitrarily detained at least 60 individuals, including children, for their actual or perceived political affiliation, he said, noting that the real number may be much higher.
“This not only infringes their fundamental rights but also erodes the rule of law in Libya and further reduces public trust in the justice system and political process,” Mr. Bathily said.
“I reiterate that a thriving civic space where Libyans engage through dialogue, dissent, and mutual understanding is critical for the political process,” he added.