DON'T MISS : Talking Africa Podcast – Mozambique's insurgency: After Palma, what comes next?

Libya: Political muddle ahead of Paris summit

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Wednesday, 10 November 2021 17:27

Presidents Mohamed al-Menfi and Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace on 23 March 2021. JULIEN MATTIA/ANADOLU AGENCY via AFP

France’s President Emmanuel Macron will host an international conference on Libya on 12 November. Meanwhile, tension is rising between Libya’s President Mohammed al-Menfi and his prime minister, Abdulhamid al-Dabaiba.

Paris will host an international conference on Libya on 12 November, ahead of the presidential election scheduled for 24 December – the legislative elections have been postponed to January. However, it seems more and more unlikely that these elections – which would give Libyans legitimate and legally appointed leaders – will go ahead as planned, as some parties feel that the country is not yet ready to go to the polls. Behind the scenes, tension is rising between the president and his prime minister.

Presidential decree

The presidential circle is angered by the fact that the prime minister, who is – in principle – devoted to internal affairs, has also been invited to the Paris summit. On 1 November, a presidential decree, which reiterates that the Presidential Council is the only body that can represent Libya abroad, was issued. Those close to Menfi point out that – ever since the Libyan parliament withdrew its confidence in the government back in September – Dabaiba’s team has been reduced to managing current affairs.

Moreover, the latter no longer has the means to accomplish its primary mission: holding elections in December. This includes financial means, as parliament has still not approved the government’s budget.

As a result, the country still does not have an electoral law, almost a month before the elections. The Tobruk-based parliament did vote on a law on 4 October, but Tripoli rejected it the following day. Despite this, Libya’s High Electoral Commission (HNEC) still went ahead with opening registration for presidential and parliamentary candidates, from 8 November until 22 November.

Mercenaries

Menfi’s entourage also explained that it does not make sense to hold elections until Libyan sovereignty has been restored, which will be impossible to achieve until mercenaries leave the country. Turkey and Russia, which are the two main countries responsible for the huge number of mercenaries in Libya, will not participate in the Paris conference, nor will Algeria or Sudan, which does not come as a surprise.

Niger, Chad and Egypt will attend the conference, as will Congo-Brazzaville’s President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who heads the African Union’s high-level committee dedicated to the Libyan crisis and who will also be present the day before at the Paris Peace Forum. Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum, Chad’s President Mahamat Idriss Déby and Morocco’s foreign affairs minister Nasser Bourita will also take part.

Succession

According to our information, Menfi will not be running in the 24 December presidential election. Three names stand out for the moment – Seif el-Islam Gaddafi, Khalifa Haftar and Khaled el-Mishri – although they have not yet officially declared their intention to run for president. The problem is that if any of them were to win, each would be rejected by a large part of the Libyan population, which could once again plunge the country into chaos.

The presidential circle is currently studying possible ways out of the crisis. One solution that has been proposed is to establish a state of emergency, which would allow parliament to be dissolved and an electoral law, by decree, to be implemented. If this ‘solution’ were to be implemented, then the elections would have to be postponed by several months.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options