By Sami Zaptia.
London, 24 December 2021:
The Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on Libya, Stephanie Williams, strongly urged in a statement yesterday relevant Libyan institutions and all political actors to focus on the electoral process. Williams is in effect the new UNSMIL head.
Her statement comes on the back of the failure to hold elections in Libya today.
Here is her full statement:
‘‘At the request of the Secretary-General, I arrived in Libya on 12 December to lead United Nations good offices and mediation efforts and engagements with Libyan and international stakeholders to pursue implementation of the three intra-Libyan dialogue tracks—political, security, and economic–and to support the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya. Over the course of the past ten days, I had the honor to meet hundreds of people from all of Libya’s regions, and to travel from Tripoli to Misrata, Sirte, and Benghazi. These broad consultations in Libya included meetings with representatives of national and municipal institutions, political, security, and civil society actors, as well as electoral candidates.
I was particularly pleased to witness a shift from a discourse of conflict to one of peaceful dialogue. Even those who only last year bore arms against each other have continued to come together. Tangible progress has been achieved since the signing of the ceasefire agreement in October 2020 and the adoption of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap in November 2020, both facilitated by the United Nations. The ceasefire is holding and a state of relative calm is prevailing across the country. I was able to travel on the coastal road between Misrata and Sirte, reopened through the leadership and efforts of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission. I was pleased to join a meeting with the Central Bank Governor and his Deputy to discuss concrete steps to fully reunify this vital sovereign institution and look forward to the full implementation of recommendations produced by the audit review of the two branches of the bank. Despite the many hardships endured by many Libyans, including in southern Libya, and the pleas of those still displaced by the conflict that has torn the country apart during the past 10 years, I have met many Libyans who have recovered a sense of normalcy. I have heard stories of separated families that could finally travel to visit relatives, a development made possible by the ceasefire and resumption of flights and the reopening of roads.
I have also heard time and again the overwhelming desire of Libyans to go to the ballot box to determine their future and to end the long transitional period through the holding of inclusive, free, fair, and credible elections. I have also heard their genuine hopes that elections must be part of the solution and not part of the problem in Libya, as also noted by the Secretary-General.
On 22 December, the High National Elections Commission announced that despite its technical preparedness, it is unable to meet the 24 December 2021 date set by the political roadmap for national elections. Citing difficulties related to the inadequacies in the electoral legislation and the process of challenges and appeals related to the eligibility of candidates, the Commission has requested that the House of Representatives set another date for the first round of the Presidential election within a period of thirty days in accordance with the law, while taking the necessary measures to address the difficulties facing the completion of the electoral process. The United Nations takes note of the Commission’s recommendation to the House of Representatives and welcomes its commitment to the ongoing electoral process and to continuing the review of the applications of the candidates for parliamentary elections.
I stand ready to work with the concerned Libyan institutions and the broad range of stakeholders to address these challenges through good offices and mediation. I call upon the concerned institutions to honor and support the will of the 2.8 million Libyans who registered to vote. To contribute to a solution of Libya’s political crisis and to durable stability, presidential and parliamentary elections must take place in the appropriate conditions, on a level playing field among all candidates to peacefully end the political transition and transfer power to democratically elected institutions.
The current challenges in the electoral process should in no way be instrumentalized to undermine the stability and progress which has been achieved in Libya over the past 15 months. I strongly urge relevant institutions and all political actors to focus on the electoral process and on creating the political and security conditions to secure the holding of inclusive, free, fair, peaceful, and credible elections, whose outcome will be accepted by all parties.’’