By Sami Zaptia.
London, 9 September 2021:
Libya’s parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), today published the law for the election of the country’s next head of state (Law 1/2021).
A covering letter from the HoR widely leaked on social media indicates that a copy of the law has been sent to the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) and UNSMIL.
The covering letter addressed to UNSMIL insisted that the HoR is the “legitimate legislative body in Libya,” and that it issued the law “in the context of its endeavour to fulfil the obligations entrusted to it regarding the enactment of legislation and the issuance of laws related to the election process.”
A controversial move?
The move by presumably Ageela Saleh to publish the law and send it to HNEC and UNSMIL and make it official is controversial on two levels.
Ageela Saleh bypasses HoR members?
First, it was expected that the law would return from the Legal and Constitutional Committee to the floor of the House for a final vote. Already at least one HoR member has objected to Ageela Saleh bypassing members on the House floor and issuing the law unilaterally.
Saleh and the HoR bypass HSC
On the second level, the High State Council (HSC) has already objected to the HoR bypassing the presidential election law in violation of the 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).
The HSC believes that the LPA is still paramount and objects to the 24 December elections being held without the holding of a referendum on the current controversial draft constitution.
Another reading of the LPDF’s Roadmap?
However, there is another reading of the Libyan situation which holds that the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s (LPDF) Roadmap, which gave birth to the new Government of National Unity and Presidency Council, has prominence over the LPA and makes no specific reference to the HSC or consulting it on election laws.
Many HoR members, including obviously Ageela Saleh, hold this view and see the drafting of laws as the exclusive concern of the HoR. The HSC disagrees with this reading.
On 26 July UNSMIL still urging adhering to LPA
UNSMIL is going to be put in an awkward position after the HoR sent it a copy of the election law. It was only on 26 July this year that UNSMIL stressed ‘‘the importance of an inclusive electoral process and of including the High State Council in the preparation of the electoral laws, including during the meeting in Rome, in line with relevant provisions of the Libyan Political Agreement and the Tunis Roadmap regarding the preparation of the electoral legislation.
UNSMIL urges the HoR and the HCS to act in goodwill towards these objectives and to coordinate in line with the relevant provisions of the LPA.’’
The statement came after UNSMIL had participated in the HoR’s July law drafting Rome meeting as a technical advisor.