The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday threatened sanctions against those who spoil the Libyan presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on December 24.
“The Security Council recalls that persons or entities that threaten the peace, stability or security of Libya or impede or undermine the successful completion of its political transition, including obstructing or curtailing elections, shall be prohibited from its sanctions may be designated,” the 15- Nation Council said in a presidential statement.
The council called on all Libyan stakeholders to respect the outcome of the vote and to work together “in the spirit of unity and compromise” for a peaceful transfer of power afterwards.
Additionally, the members issued a joint call for countries to impose an arms embargo against Libya and for all foreign fighters and mercenaries to leave the country immediately. Since the ouster and assassination of long-time dictator Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been fueled by instability, fighting and foreign interference.
Elections are to be held in Libya in exactly one month – 70 years after the country’s declaration of independence in 1951. The head of the Higher National Electoral Commission, or HNEC, said on Tuesday that 98 people had registered by the deadline to run for president, a list that includes one of Gaddafi’s sons and the commander of an eastern-based militia that fought in 2019. Tried to seize the capital Tripoli, as well as two female candidates.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Gaddafi, wanted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, was among 25 candidates whose bids were rejected by the HNEC.
Over 2,000 candidates have so far registered for parliamentary seats, including 276 women. This registration is open till 7th December.
Earlier this month, HNEC began distributing voter cards to more than 2.8 million registered voters, with more than 64% of eligible voters having received them so far.
The HNEC has confirmed that the first round of voting in both elections will take place on 24 December, 50 days after the second round, to allow counting and tabulating the results, as well as to accommodate potential electoral challenges and appeals. The final results of both the elections will be declared simultaneously.
the messenger suddenly resigned
It was also announced on Tuesday that Jan Kubis, the top UN diplomat for Libya, was stepping down. Kubis addressed his sudden departure after less than a year in office, via a video call from Tripoli to what was likely his last briefing to the council.
He said he was in favor of splitting the role of the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Libya, UNSMIL, and the role of special envoy into two jobs, with the head of UNSMIL based in Tripoli. This is something that was discussed earlier but not acted upon.
“In order to create conditions for this on 17 November 2021, I tendered my resignation,” he told the council. “In my resignation letter, I reaffirmed my readiness to continue as Special Envoy for a transitional period to ensure business continuity, provided this is a viable option.”
However, he said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had accepted his resignation in a letter, effective December 10, ahead of the election.
When asked about Kubis, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said: “While we are looking for a successor, we will continue to work with him.”
The previous envoy, Ghassan Salam, stepped down in March 2020 citing stress on his health, and it took more than a year to find his successor. Now the Secretary-General has set himself the difficult task of finding a new envoy who is agreed to by both the Libyan parties and the Security Council in less than three weeks.
In his parting briefing, Kubis said the political climate in the country remains “heavily polarised”, including tensions over the current legal framework of elections and the eligibility of some candidates.
“Libya remains at a delicate and delicate juncture on the road to unity and stability through the ballot boxes,” Kubis said. “While the risks associated with the ongoing political polarization around elections are clear and present, not holding elections could seriously worsen the situation in the country and lead to further division and conflict.”
Some information for this report has been received from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.