National elections in Libya will take place on 24 December 2021, Stephanie Williams, the head of the UN mission in the country, announced on Friday during a virtual press conference.
The announcement came a week after talks began in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, aimed at creating an executive authority capable of organizing elections and implementing political, economic and military reforms. The new executive, said Ms. Williams, will involve a separation of powers, with a new Presidency Council, and a Government of National Unity led by a Prime Minister.
A path out of a crisis
Ms. Williams explained that 24 December is Libyan Independence Day, an important and symbolic date for the country’s citizens. The UN, she said, will work to ensure that as many people as possible, including those who have been displaced from their home, are able to vote.
The talks, she continued, reflect the will of the Libyan people, and provide a “clear path out of the current crisis, and to credible, inclusive and democratic elections”. The country has been riven by chaos and conflict since the downfall of long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, culminating in a civil war and the siege of the Libyan capital Tripoli which began in April last year. Ms. Williams presided over a breakthrough peace agreement between five senior commanders from either side, at a meeting in Geneva last month.
Inclusivity and transparency
The candidates for executive positions, said Ms. Williams, are being asked to adhere to the principles of inclusivity, transparency, efficiency, pluralism, collegiality, and patriotism. The members of the new executive will be asked to share a ledger of their assets, and to formally commit to the democratic process and the deadline for elections.
The UN official underlined the immense expectations placed on the 75 participants in the talks, and the impatience of the Libyan people, who are “fed up with the rampant corruption and mis-governance” and want to unify the country, and see a new united government that can deliver services.
However, there are several factions and individuals who are seeking to block progress and undermine the peace process, warned Ms. Williams, adding that “momentum is against them and their desire to promote their narrow personal interests at the expense of the public good.”
The importance of support from partners is essential to the success of the process, declared Ms. Williams. She welcomed the encouragement that she has received from the international community, but underlined the importance of action to back up commitments, particularly with regards to an arms embargo, and the appropriate use of sanctions.