Abdoulaye Bathily, a UN envoy, urged rival governments in conflict-torn Libya to reach an election agreement “by mid-June” in an effort to hold the long-delayed vote by year’s end.
The Senegalese diplomat informed the UN Security Council last month that he had a fresh idea to move negotiations on the legal foundation for elections to the presidential and parliamentary bodies, initially scheduled for December 2021, forward.
But Bathily, who has led the UN Support Mission in Libya since October, has come under fire for his frank criticism of the two houses of parliament in the North African nation for failing to come to an agreement.
At a news conference in Tripoli on Saturday, the UN envoy defended his plan and made it clear that it was “not a foreign-imposed solution.”
“After sitting for a few weeks, it would be possible for them to reach an agreement on those electoral laws… (and) to put up a clear roadmap by mid-June.”
Since the 2011 uprising that ousted strongman Moamer Kadhafi, Libya has experienced more than ten years of stop-start fighting, with a wide variety of militias forming opposing alliances backed by foreign powers.
It is still divided between a formally interim government in Tripoli, located in the west, and one supported by Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman, in the east.
It would be feasible to hold these elections by the end of the year if both administrations agreed to negotiate, Bathily told reporters.
Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah of Tripoli expressed his support for “Mr Bathily’s efforts,” calling for “fair and impartial elections” on Twitter on Saturday.
The UN initiative, which is supported by Western nations, has drawn criticism from both the Haftar-backed government in the east and Russia.
The Tripoli government’s attempts to keep US citizen Haftar from running for president have been a major contributor to the impasse over the legitimacy of the elections.
Rivals of Haftar want regulations that prohibit dual citizens and military personnel from running for office.