By Sami Zaptia.
London, 26 May 2021:
In his opening remarks to today’s opening of the two-day Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) virtual session, UNSMIL head Jan Kubis warned that any acts under any pretext obstructing the timely holding of the 24 December elections would be unacceptable to the Libyan people and the international community.
The LPDF is meeting to agree on the constitutional basis for the elections. The meeting is being livestreamed.
Here are his full remarks:
‘‘Honourable members of the LPDF,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to welcome you to this two-day virtual meeting, that is called on to make progress towards ensuring that the wish of the Libyan people, which found its reflection in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) Roadmap and resolutions of the UN Security Council, for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held on 24 December 2021, is respected and met. Once again, all eyes in Libya are on you with great expectation that your meeting will produce what is required to respond to this overwhelming aspiration of the people.
As we noted in the invitation message, the discussion needs to focus on the constitutional basis for elections, as finalized on 3 May by the LPDF Legal Committee following its meeting on 7-9 April. The finalized proposal was transmitted to you on 4 May and was last week released to the public for transparency and to counter a misinformation campaign in social media.
I would like to thank the Legal Committee, its Drafting Team and Rapporteurs for the excellent work they accomplished in achieving this broadest possible compromise.
We don’t envisage conducting an article by article review of the proposal and would kindly encourage you to focus on the outstanding issues of the proposal at hand and in particular on the modality for the election of the President and the eligibility criteria. I would also like to recall that two members of the Legal Committee expressed reservation on a specific article related to the issue of cultural components representation in the Parliament, and they will have the opportunity to have it discussed today.
Live streaming of previous LPDF sessions was positively received throughout Libya. Also, this meeting will be streamed live to give the Libyan public the opportunity to witness your deliberations.
Honourable members of the LPDF,
In the past period, UNSMIL as well as some of our external partners have, in parallel, reached out to different interlocutors from diverse segments of the Libyan society on the topic of elections in order to get a better understanding of what people desire.
Here is what we heard:
- Elections must be held on 24 December 2021; Institutions should not overstay their mandate. There is widespread support for the holding of elections on December 24 and for freely electing new and unified Libyan institutions.
- A question of Holding elections first versus finalizing the constitutional process first. While an overwhelming majority of people underlined the importance of the Constitutional process, there was strong support, near unanimity on the proposal of holding elections first. They acknowledged that the completion of the constitution-making process would still require further consensus-building and a lot of time to address a number of contentious provisions.
- A question of Direct vs. indirect Presidential elections. Some groups expressed a preference for direct presidential elections now. Others maintained that direct Presidential elections this year will be too polarizing at this delicate time in Libya’s history. Moreover, they acknowledged that the country needs to have a permanent constitution or a constitutional framework, which will define the prerogatives and oversight of presidential powers and that this should be decided by a newly-elected parliament.
- The LPDF’s role in facilitating the elections, in drafting proposals of the constitutional basis. The role of the LPDF to ensure holding of the elections on 24 December, to draft the necessary basis for elections, that would then be approved by the HoR was viewed very positively.
- Reconciliation is required to ensure stability around the election.Swift action on reconciliation, transitional justice and accountability was requested in order to rebuild trust within and between communities.
- The need to create Conducive conditions for the elections and their inclusivity, including improved security conditions, providing the necessary space for political parties and movements, ensuring freedom and security for political activities for citizens across all regions, including the displaced Libyans inside and outside of Libya and enabling meaningful participation and representation of women, youth and the cultural components.
- Pre-agreement on electoral code of conduct and on accepting electoral results. This is an essential element for the political process. All political actors must be allowed to campaign freely, voters must be allowed to vote freely, and all must accept the results of the ballot box. Moreover, candidates must abide by the rules and laws governing the elections.
Honourable members of the LPDF,
The UN Security Council in its Resolution 2570, unanimously adopted on 16 April 2021, welcomed the interim Presidency Council and the interim Government of National Unity charged with leading the country up to national elections on 24 December 2021, as set out in the LPDF roadmap.
The Security Council called on the relevant authorities and institutions, including the House of Representatives, to take the actions set out in the LPDF roadmap to facilitate the 24 December 2021 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, including to clarify the constitutional basis for elections and the enactment of the legislation, as necessary, by 1 July 2021 in order to allow the High National Elections Commission adequate time to prepare for elections according to the prescribed timeline, and further called on the LPDF to take steps to facilitate the elections if necessary.
The Security Council also warned about possible dire consequences as regards individuals or entities that obstruct or undermine the successful completion of political transition, confirming that such acts could include obstructing or undermining those elections planned for in the LPDF roadmap.
These resolutions thus confirmed the ultimate responsibility and accountability of the responsible Libyan institutions, authorities and individuals for creating the necessary conditions for the 24 December 2021 national Presidential and Parliamentary elections, as well as the continuous central role of the LPDF, that is explicitly called on to take steps to facilitate the elections, if necessary.
This is your mandate, this is also our mandate. We all need to live up to our responsibility before the Libyan people, that request the elections in December 2021. Any acts, any decisions that under any pretext or based on any, even the most logical arguments would obstruct or undermine the political transition and create obstacles, impediments on the way to holding the elections on 24 December 2021 are unacceptable and will be as such assessed and qualified by the Libyan people and by the international community.
Honourable members of the LPDF
We hope and expect, that your discussions and deliberations will contribute to further building the needed consensus for a consolidated draft constitutional basis for the 24 December elections to be adopted by the HoR, in consultation with HSC.
Following our meeting of 4 May, the Speaker of the House confirmed, in a public statement, the importance of holding the presidential and parliamentary elections on time and noted that if the LPDF reaches an agreement, the outcomes should be referred to the HoR to be adopted and added to the Constitutional declaration. In the event that the LPDF does not agree on the constitutional basis, the House of Representatives Decision No. (05) of 2014 would be the applicable framework, said the Speaker.
Honourable members of the LPDF,
In our contact Libyan people thus expressed their aspiration with some additional messages that you may wish to reinforce. You may wish to:
- Call on the House of Representatives to immediately put on its agenda and clarify – after consultations with the High Council of States- the constitutional and legal framework for elections within a strict deadline of some 2-3 weeks. Here I like to note that the next ministerial meeting of the Berlin Conference process is envisaged to take place on 23 of June and will serve to take stock of the progress – or the lack of it – with regards to election preparations and other issues.
- Call upon the Presidency Council (PC) and all relevant institutions and authorities to swiftly advance concrete initiatives of national reconciliation and confidence-building.
- Call on the PC and GNU to reach out to all stakeholders and ensure, ahead of the elections, the adoption of a national pact, a code of conduct with a commitment to key principles, values and measures necessary for the smooth and peaceful implementation of free, safe, inclusive and democratic elections on 24 December 2021.
- Urge all Libyan political actors and groupings to renew their commitment to the Libyan Political Agreement and the LPDF Roadmap, to solemnly commit to peacefully manage differences, to unequivocally reject any recourse to violence, incitement or hate speech, to commit to accept election results and to rule via inclusive executive authority elected by the Libyan people.
Honourable members of the LPDF,
I trust that in your deliberations you will remain guided by the same spirit of dialogue, compromise and constructive consensus-building, to fulfil your political responsibility towards the Libyan people that allowed you to achieve already so much through the LPDF process.
I urge you to focus on what unites you and not on what divides you and to remain mindful of the aspirations of millions of Libyans who placed their hope in this Forum.
Many thanks for your attention”.