By Sami Zaptia.
London, 16 September 2021:
The U.S. continued its political pressure on the various Libyan stakeholders to hold the country’s planned 24 December elections – and to hold them on time.
The pressure came in the form of a diplomatic visit to Tripoli yesterday by Counsellor of the U.S. Department of State Derek Chollet and Ambassador and Special Envoy for Libya Richard Norland.
The two U.S. diplomats met Prime Minister Abd Allhamid Aldabaiba, High State Council head Khaled Al-Mishri, Presidential Council Deputy Chairmen Musa Koni and Abdullah Lafi, and head of the High National Election Commission (HNEC) Emad al-Sayah.
In the meetings, they emphasized the urgent need for Libyan leaders to ensure agreement on an electoral framework for national elections on 24 December and also underscored U.S. support for full implementation of the 23 October 2020 ceasefire agreement, including the withdrawal of all foreign fighters, mercenaries, and forces.
Tweeting upon his arrival in Tripoli on the U.S. Embassy account, Chollet said ‘‘It’s a pleasure to visit Tripoli along with U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland. We met Prime Minister Aldabaiba to re-affirm U.S. support for the GNU’s work to stabilize Libya politically and economically, and to prepare for December’s elections.’’
On his meeting with Mishri, he tweeted ‘‘HSC chairman Mishri and I had a substantive discussion about the importance of holding national elections as scheduled.
I emphasized the U.S. and international position that Libyan actors need to finalize electoral legislation that takes into account the legitimate concerns of the Libyan people.”
In a statement later by the HSC on the elections and election laws, the HSC said:
‘‘During the meeting, the President (Mishri) stressed the keenness of the High State Council to hold the elections on time, and to get the country out of the transitional phase, indicating that the HSC is about to complete the preparation of draft laws regulating the electoral process.’’
With regards to his meeting with the Presidency Council (PC), Chollet tweeted ‘‘I expressed our support for the work of the PC towards national reconciliation.
In today’s meeting, Vice-Presidents Koni and Lafi shared their commitments to holding presidential and parliamentary elections as scheduled on 24 December and their important work seeking to re-unite Libya’s institutions and fully integrate all regions of the country.’’
Meanwhile, after his meeting with HNEC, Chollet tweeted ‘‘Its clear that from a technical point of view that HNEC is ready to hold elections on 24 December. Today, I learned directly about the effective preparations for the elections from HNEC chairman Al-Sayeh and I thanked him for his important work.’’
The visit by the two U.S. diplomat comes on the back of the Libyan parliament (the House of Representatives – HoR) controversially ‘‘passing’’ the election law for the head of state.
It also follows on from the briefing by UNSMIL head Jan Kubis to the UN Security Council warning that aborting elections could return Libya to violence.
Equally, in a joint statement by five states urged inclusive, free and fair Libyan parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December 2021.
The statement read: ‘‘We, the Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States in Libya, following his briefing to the UN Security Council on 10 September, 2021, join Special Envoy Jan Kubis in urging all Libyan actors to ensure inclusive, free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December, 2021.’’
The HSC, however, has rejected the head-of-state election law passed by the HoR as a unilateral action conducted without consulting it – as prescribed by the 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).
Yesterday, on 15 September, just over three months away from the planned 24 December elections, the HSC stated that it ‘‘is about to complete the preparation of draft laws regulating the electoral process.’’