By Sami Zaptia.
London, 4 February 2021:
The U.S has denied that it is attempting to influence the outcome of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) taking part this week in Geneva.
The 74-member LPDF, selected by UNSMIL, is attempting to choose a new, interim, temporary, unified Libyan government.
This short-term government is charged with overseeing the referendum on the draft constitution and the 24 December 2021 general elections.
Commenting on social media comments, U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland said ‘‘The suggestion that the U.S. is trying to ‘‘force’’ a particular outcome at the LPDF is old thinking and an insult to the Libyan people who have invested their hopes in this process’’.
Norland’s rebuttal came after a leading Libyan analyst suggested on social media that Egypt and Turkey, with strong support from the U.S. are attempting to force the selection of a list consisting of Ageela Saleh, the head of the eastern based House of Representatives, Osma Juwaily head of Western Forces and Abdulmajid Saif al-Nasr representing the south for the Presidency Council. Fathi Bashagha from Misrata is supposed to be part of this list as candidate for the post of Prime Minister.
The analyst’s post also claimed that Egypt and Turkey want to ‘‘carve (up) influence inside Libya’’ while the ‘‘U.S. wants to see the Russians out’’.
It is not usual for embassies to respond to individual social media post and the response could suggests that the U.S thinks the LPDF process is important and delicately balanced and did not want to it derail or warped off course.
It also suggests that it sees the influence of social media on Libyan politics and public opinion as important.