Posted on Nov 12, 2020
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum opened in Tunis on Monday, established under the auspices of the United Nations in order to determine Libya’s future institutional framework.
The Forum will decide on the procedure for planning general elections, the constitutional basis for them and how to choose a transitional government leading up to the elections. A result to this process is expected by 16th November, and the latest indications from the Forum so far suggest that there is a high degree of likelihood that the names of the head of the Presidential Council and the Prime Minister will be announced within the next 10 days.
As of today, many candidates for these positions have been nominated and the existing options are being studied carefully by political analysts. But the current political environment in Libya and Tripoli is far from calm, which is perhaps not surprising given the long period of instability that the people of Libya have had to suffer. The authorities still cannot guarantee victory over banditry and terrorism.
The same atmosphere prevails at the Forum. There is active participation from radical personalities such as the Head of the Supreme Council of State Khaled Mishri - the Muslim Brotherhood, At-Thani - the Prime Minister of the interim government in the East, and Fathi Bashaga - the Minister of Internal Affairs, who was removed from office only a few months ago.
There is still no consensus emerging amongst delegates and not even the basis of mutual understanding between the representatives of the different competing groups. Experts have expressed suspicions that the Forum may not produce the result expected of it, but the procedure for the Forum which the UN has adopted does make it possible for a declarative outcome in case delegates fail to reach a consensual accord.
Even if Marshal Haftar follows the decisions of the joint military commission and does not start a new phase of his counter-terrorism operation, relations in Tripoli are now very tense and the appointment of controversial figures will lead to an escalation of internal conflicts, such as clashes between the Tripolitanian Ministry of Internal Affairs and groups not controlled by them, or even between units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. All this could lead to a new round of military escalation.
Should however a compromise be achieved and consensus built around technocrats such as Faeiz Saraj or Ahmed Maityg, then Libya has a chance to manage a transition, albeit one that will be fraught with difficulty, leading to the restoration of unity. The ultimate objective must be the conduct of a free and fair general election, which will successfully produce a popular mandate for a president and parliament through a peaceful democratic process.
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