By Sami Zaptia.
London, 1 July 2021:
U.S. Ambassador and Special Envoy to Libya Richard Norland urged Libyans to reach consensus on agreeing on the constitutional basis.
‘‘We strongly urge Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) members to work with UNSMIL to reach consensus on the constitutional basis needed to hold national elections in December. As noted by USAID surveys, Libyans’ desire to elect their next government is truly national.
December elections are the best path to a legitimately elected, accountable government as a means to ensure stability, prosperity, and public service delivery for the welfare of Libyans.’’, he concluded.
The statement comes as part of a concerted effort by the U.S. (as well as UNSMIL and the international community) to get the LPDF meeting in Geneva to agree upon a constitutional basis to hold the 24 December elections – on time.
There is a split(s) between the various Libyan stakeholders/political streams on what exactly can constitute a constitutional basis before 24 December.
Referendum on the draft constitution?
One camp insists on loyally upholding the temporary constitution/roadmap which prescribes that a referendum must be held on the current draft constitution prior to holding constitutionally based elections.
Hold elections first, agree constitution later?
The second camp suggests that elections are held without holding the referendum – and that the messy business of getting consensus on the controversial draft constitution is left to later.
Why constitutionally based elections?
Holding constitutionally based elections means the new parliament/government/president would have full/more legitimacy. This would enable the new political powers to have more authority and ability to make strong decisions to move Libya from its current political quagmire.
Why is the constitution controversial?
The rules for drafting the constitution prescribe that it must be approved by all Libya’s minorities. However, the Amazigh minority boycotted the process, and the current draft does not have their approval. Hence even if it squeezes through a referendum, it is highly likely that it will be challenged in court.
New elections for renewed legitimacy and mandate
The international community, however, is now convinced the current set of Libyan political stakeholders will not allow Libya to move forward and the best way out of the country’s political quagmire is through an election that would renew political legitimacy and mandate.