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Libya's interim government still backed by Western powers

December 24, 2021

On the day Libyans were scheduled to go to polls, Western nations have called on Libya to set a new date and finalize a list of candidates.

Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar speaking on Alhadath TV on 16 November 2021
Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar is one of nearly 100 people that had been running for presidential officeImage: LIBYA ALHADATH TV/AFP/Getty Images

Western powers said they would continue to support Libya's interim government after the delay of a presidential election that had been scheduled for Friday.

The vote was called off earlier in the week after lawmakers on the committee overseeing the poll concluded that holding it on time would be "impossible.”

Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States called for a new date to be finalized quickly.

"We call on the relevant Libyan authorities to respect the aspirations of the Libyan people for prompt elections by swiftly determining a final date for the polling and issuing the final list of presidential candidates without delay," the countries said in a joint statement.

In a separate statement, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell called for a clear election schedule.

The fate of the interim government isn't clear

Friday's election was to mark a fresh start for the war-torn country after a landmark ceasefire in 2020 that also saw the formation of the interim Government of National Unity.

Libya's parliament said in September that it would not recognize the interim government beyond December 24.

The Western powers said there could be no transfer of power until after the election.

The election could take place in January

Libya's High National Electoral Commission has suggested pushing back the vote to January 24.

There is no agreement on the new date yet, and disputes over the election's legal basis and fundamental rules remained.

Another point of contention was the candidacies of several deeply divisive figures.

They include Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi; Khalifa Haftar, the head of the Libyan National Army based in the east; and Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, the interim prime minister.

The Western powers warned that a power grab will not be tolerated: "We stand ready to hold to account those who threaten the stability or undermine the political and electoral process in Libya, through violence, or the incitement of violence."

lo/aw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)