Libyan Parliament’s Attack on Bathily out of Fear of Overtaking and Marginalization

Sixty deputies accuse the UN mission of misleading public opinion to undermine consensus, considering its practices somewhat dubious

On Friday evening, sixty members of the Libyan parliament launched an attack against UN envoy Abdoulaye Bathily, accusing him of misleading public opinion and working against consensus. This reflects the fears of both the House of Representatives and the High Council of State that Abdoulaye Bathily might impose the UN mission’s political roadmap, sidelining both councils, which are trying to delay elections by insisting on forming a new government and ignoring the issuance of election laws.

Some believe that the statement by the sixty deputies is driven by the head of the council, Aguila Saleh, who has not yet issued any comment on the warning message sent to him by the UN envoy, implicitly rejecting the adoption of the executive roadmap for the election laws.

Others argue that the statement of the sixty deputies falls within the defense plan followed by the parliament and the High Council of State to solidify their existence as legislative and advisory institutions. This became evident when Bathily proposed an alternative plan and directed the formation of a committee responsible for issuing election laws. However, both councils hastened to amend Constitutional Declaration 13 and form the 6+6 committee, which prepared the election laws during its meetings in Bouznika, Morocco.

In a strongly-worded statement, the deputies stated that “the practices of the United Nations Mission in Libya, led by special envoy Bathily, have become somewhat dubious recently, as if they are working against Libyan consensus,” adding “it is not far from the observations made by the United Nations Mission regarding the election laws issued by the 6+6 committee and other issues.”

The deputies warned the UN mission “of the danger of these positions and urged it to adhere to its assigned tasks according to Resolution 2011/2009, which limited its duties to supporting Libyan political institutions, without being granted the authority to interfere in Libyan affairs as it is happening now.”

The deputies considered that “what was stated in the United Nations Support Mission in Libya’s statement is misleading public opinion, aiming to empty the consensus of both councils of its content and diminish its importance by describing it as unilateral, while it is an essential basis for broad consensus among Libyans to reach the presidential and parliamentary elections.”

The statement reminded that “this consensus between both councils was an essential demand of all who preceded the United Nations in presiding over the mission, as it implements the provisions of the Libyan Political Agreement, which was the result of hard work supervised by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya at that time and has now become a crucial constitutional document.”

Last Thursday, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya warned against “any unilateral actions or attempts to undermine the aspirations of Libyans for national elections,” following the House of Representatives’ announcement of its approval of the roadmap derived from the 6+6 committee, consisting of the parliament and the High Council of State, to prepare the election laws.

In response to the mission’s statement, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy embassies in Libya issued a joint statement on Thursday night, declaring their support for Bathily’s efforts to involve all parties in addressing the disputed points in the election laws of the 6+6 committee.

The joint statement of the five embassies emphasized the necessity of “engaging all parties in Libya within the framework of the political process led by the United Nations.” It also stressed the importance of “all political parties in Libya participating constructively with the UN special envoy.” The statement further expressed support for “securing a comprehensive political agreement necessary for the elections, providing an equal space for all candidates,” and pointed out that “discussions on the roadmap should be part of broader political negotiations facilitated by the United Nations.”

It is expected that the Supreme Council of State will discuss the House of Representatives’ remarks on the electoral laws to be included by the 6+6 Committee and then returned to the House of Representatives for final approval to start implementation.

The remarks of the House of Representatives relate to canceling the second round of presidential elections and allowing dual nationals to run for office, provided they relinquish foreign citizenship from the embassy of the country they hold nationality if they win. It also allows military personnel to return to their positions if they do not win the elections.

Observers exclude the approval of the Supreme Council of State on the remarks of the House of Representatives, as accepting these remarks would mean allowing Libyan Army Commander Khalifa Haftar to run for office, a move that the armed and popular groups in the west of the country have always opposed.

These observers believe that the file of electoral laws will continue to be procrastinated, and committee after committee will be formed to review and reformulate them, among other justifications. The electoral laws are the most appropriate pretext for the two councils to work under to achieve their real goal, which is forming a new government and removing Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, who has become a fierce opponent for both councils.

Observers believe that the UN mission’s statement was not only directed at the House of Representatives but also at the Supreme Council of State. It aims to remind them of the existence of other partners from various political, societal, and military spectra who should be sitting at the new negotiating table. They consider this message as an affirmation of the mission’s commitment to implementing the negotiation process it announced preparations for a few days ago.

Observers consider Bathily’s activities in supporting meetings related to the security and military tracks between leaders from the western and eastern camps as an important addition to the upcoming political negotiations. Bathily relies on this engagement to succeed in his plan. The involvement of military personnel neutralizes the risk of their obstruction and their acceptance of any agreement. Additionally, the participation of the military will be the guarantee for implementing the results of any agreement, as they hold the power to enforce it on the ground.

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