By Sami Zaptia.
London, 28 December 2020:
UNSMIL reported today that its Acting Head, Stephanie Williams, facilitated today the second virtual meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s (LPDF) Legal Committee.
It said that the meeting’s discussions focused on legislative and legal foundations necessary for holding the national elections.
It also reported that the Head of High National Election Commission (HNEC) in Libya, Emad al- Sayeh, attended the meeting and briefed on the progress in HNEC’s technical preparedness, necessary for the holding of the planned national elections on 24 December 2021, and on the basis of electoral legislation that should be adopted in the coming period.
The Legal Committee
The LPDF Legal Committee was launched on 21 December and marks the start date of the “Preparatory phase’’ for the 24 December 2021 elections.
It comprises of 18 LPDF members and is mandated to follow-up on the discussions of the constitutional committee established by the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High State Council (HSC), and make recommendations for assistance, including a proposal (s) on the appropriate constitutional basis/ arrangements leading to the national elections.
UNSMIL reported that the Legal Committee shall inform the LPDF of the progress of discussions every two weeks. It shall also advise the LPDF on legal issues related to the legal framework necessary to carry out the elections on 24 December 2021.
The Preparatory Phase
It will be recalled that under the LPDF political roadmap, there are strict timelines to adhere to. In Article 3 regarding Timeframe towards General Elections, item one says:
The “Preparatory Phase for a Comprehensive Solution” shall begin from the declaration of the outcomes of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum held in Tunis in November 2020. However, since the LPDF did not agree on their final outcomes, UNSMIL has changed this to begin from the launch of the Legal Committee, that is, 21 December.
Item two says the “Preparatory Phase for a Comprehensive Solution” shall end with the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections – in accordance with the constitutional process – on 24 December 2021.
Item three says the ‘‘LPDF shall follow up on the progress of issues of the Preparatory Phase according to the specified dates’’.
Item two of Article 4 regarding deadlines and rules governing the Roadmap says ‘‘the institutions concerned with the constitutional process shall agree to accomplish the constitutional arrangements within a period not exceeding 60 days from the beginning of the Preparatory Phase.
This item puts pressure on the ever-squabbling HoR and HSC to approve the necessary constitutional amendments, such as approving the draft constitution before them, to enable the holding of constitutional elections.
Item three reads ‘‘In the event of expiration of the period specified in paragraph 1 of this Article without achieving the required result, it is for the LPDF to decide on the progress of the constitutional process and the legislation needed for the achieving the elections.
This point means that the HoR and HSC cannot hold the process to ransom by filibustering the process. They know if they don’t take a decision the LPDF will.
Item five says ‘‘The House of Representatives and the High Council of State shall agree on the sovereign positions provided for in Article 15 of the Libyan Political Agreement within a period not exceeding 60 days from the start of the Preparatory Phase. In their agreement, the two Councils shall respect the complete independence of the judicial authority and its selection rules in accordance with the legislation in force and international standards for independence of the judiciary’’.
The 24 December 2021 elections
It will be recalled that HNEC had announced on 30 November that the Tripoli Libyan government had announced that it had allocated LD 50 million to it to hold the 24 December elections. On 21 December UNSMIL confirmed that HNEC had actually received this money into its account.
HNEC had demanded funds
It will also be recalled that the head of the Tripoli Libyan government, Faiez Serraj, had pledged on 16 November to allocate funds to HNEC on the back of an announcement by the LPDF meeting in Tunis (9-17 November) to hold constitutionally based Libyan elections on 24 December 2021.
Serraj had, in his 23 August speech, called for Libya-wide General Elections in March 2021 as part of his reaction to public unrest manifested in the August protests across Libya.
In response to that call for elections, HNEC head Emad Al-Sayeh complained in media comments on 3 September that his organization was not ready to hold elections due to the lack of funds provided by the Serraj government.