United Nations Political Affairs Chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, says amid a political impasse that threatens to see Libya fractured again by two parallel governments, the priority must be to conduct peaceful election.
Ms Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peace-building Affairs, told the Security Council on Wednesday that the priority should be how to maintain hard won gains and fulfilling the electoral aspirations of nearly three million registered voters.
The official also spotlighted an increase in reported human rights violations, hate speech, defamation, and threats, as well as violence against activists, journalists, and political actors.
“Libya is now facing a new phase of political polarisation, which risks dividing its institutions once again and reversing the gains achieved over the past two years,” she warned.
Outlining recent developments, the Under-Secretary-General recalled that Libya’s last planned elections — scheduled for December 2021 — were postponed, with the country’s National Elections Commission citing inadequacies in electoral legislation and challenges related to candidates’ eligibility.
In February, the country’s eastern-based House of Representatives voted to designate a new Prime Minister and government, over the objections of the internationally recognised Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeiba, who refused to step down.
Nevertheless, the House of Representatives went forward with the formation of a new government, designating Fathi Bashagha, a former Minister of Interior, as the new Prime Minister.
On Feb. 24, the High State Council – based in the internationally recognised administration’s centre of government in Tripoli and born out of the UN-supported Libyan Political Agreement of 2015 – rejected the parliamentary declaration, creating a serious impasse that is now once again ramping up tensions in the conflict-wracked nation.
On March 3, members of Bashagha’s cabinet were sworn in by the House of Representatives.
While the situation on the ground remains relatively calm, reports are emerging of threatening rhetoric, rising political tensions and divided loyalties among the armed groups in western Libya.
“Our priority is to focus on fulfilling the aspirations of the more than 2.8 million Libyans who have registered to vote,” DiCarlo told the Security Council.
She added: “They should be able to choose their leaders through credible, transparent, and inclusive elections according to an agreed upon constitutional and legal framework.”
DiCarlo also briefed the Council on Libya’s ongoing security, economic and human rights challenges, warning that the latter have seen a spike as tensions rise across the country.
On the economic front, she highlighted a lack of oversight and clarity on public spending, noting that no national budget was approved in 2021 and a roiling controversy over budgetary payments is hampering the functioning of Libya’s National Oil Corporation.
She pointed to rise in hate speech, defamation and threats, as well as incitement to violence and acts of violence against activists, journalists and political actors, including women.
Both state and non-state actors arbitrarily arrest and detain human rights activists and migrants and refugees at sea continue to be intercepted by Libya’s authorities and transferred to detention centres where they reportedly suffer serious human rights violations.
Citing reports of torture, starvation, extortion and deaths in custody, she nevertheless said the UN recorded a decrease in the number of internally displaced persons across Libya, between the end of 2021 and March 5.