International community threatens to sanction Libyan election spoilers

The various world powers have ruled to impose sanctions on those who impede "credible" Libyan elections
Libyan Political Dialogue Forum

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Libyan Political Dialogue Forum

Last Friday, during a summit in Paris, the international community threatened to sanction those who hinder Libya's upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, seeking to ensure the country's democratic transition.  

This comes ten years after the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. 

At the end of the conference, which was also attended by senior Libyan officials, a statement was issued showing the countries' support for the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries in Libya, which are mainly Russians supporting Marshal Khalifa Hafter, and Turks in favor of the National Unity Government located in Tripoli.  

French President Emmanuel Macron during an address from the Elysée Palace.
PHOTO/ARCHIVO -  French President Emmanuel Macron during an address from the Elysée Palace.

The Libyan National Army (LNA), which owes its allegiance to Hafter, announced last Thursday that 300 "mercenaries and foreign fighters" will be repatriated from the areas under its control.  

Merkel describes this action as a step "in the right direction". Contrary to Macron, who expressed that it is still not enough.  

"It is only the beginning, Turkey and Russia must also withdraw without delay their mercenaries and their military forces, whose presence threatens the stability and security of the country and the entire region," he said. 

The international leaders stated that any "individual or entity, inside or outside Libya, who attempts to obstruct, undermine, manipulate or falsify the electoral process and the political transition will be held accountable and may be designated by the United Nations Sanctions Committee.

The Chairman of the Presidential Council, Muhammead Al-Manfi
PHOTO/ARCHIVO - The Chairman of the Presidential Council, Muhammead Al-Manfi

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, after the summit said, "After a decade of violence, divisions and instability, the prospect of elections raises doubts and even opposition from all those who fear democratic change and all those who benefit from war." 

Therefore, "we must remain mobilized to ensure that free, fair and transparent elections are held," because "the Libyan transition must be carried through to the end and the elections must take place in the best possible conditions so that the different actors can each play their role," he added. 

The summit was attended by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Libyan Presidential Council leader Muhammead Al-Manfi, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and Egyptian leader Abdel Fatah El Sisi, among others.  

Marshal Khalifa Haftar
PHOTO/ARCHIVO - Marshal Khalifa Haftar

Likewise, Prime Minister Dbeibah, called for the presence of international observers and political support to ensure "free and fair" elections.  

"We need real guarantees that the results of the elections will be accepted by all and that those who reject the results of the elections will be sanctioned," he added. 

Mohamed Menfi communicated, "If the electoral process takes place in an honest and consensual manner by all parties, I will hand over power to the authorities elected by the Libyan people." 

Both Libyan representatives pledged to respect the election results.  

Al Menfi and Dbeibah took office this year, following the October 2020 ceasefire and after the UN-backed peace process.  

Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah
AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA - Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah

Libya has been a hotbed of near-constant conflict since the revolution that toppled dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011.  

Draghi expressed the importance of the elections taking place, saying that three million Libyans had already registered to vote. 

He also said, "There needs to be an electoral law, which is fundamental to the holding of elections." 

"That is why I hope that this electoral law will be drawn up with the agreement of everyone and that everyone will come together, not in the next few weeks, but in the next few days, because it is urgent if elections are to be held on December 24," he added.  

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Foto de Archivo - Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The presidential and parliamentary elections will take place on December 24, as expected by the United Nations (UN).  

However, the date is questionable due to the divisions between the factions in Libya, as well as their recognition of the election results. 

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, noted that "Elections are the next essential step on the road to peace and stability. This step must be built on a solid foundation of inclusive and credible frameworks that can ensure their success."

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres
Foto de Archivo - UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

"I strongly urge Libyans to come together in a spirit of national unity, to overcome remaining differences and forge a consensus on the legal framework for the elections, in consultation with all relevant national institutions, adhering to their rules and procedures," Guterres added. 

Another issue of ongoing concern is the situation of migrants and refugees, who attempt to travel from Libya to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea, endangering their lives to get there, though many are held in detention centers under squalid conditions if intercepted at sea. 

"The Libyan authorities have a responsibility to protect all people in Libya, including migrants and refugees. I am deeply concerned about the appalling conditions that refugees and migrants continue to face in custody," said Antonio Guterres.