Despite statements at Tripoli conference, skepticism surrounds Dbeibah’s promised support for elections |
TRIPOLI – In the aftermath of the Libya stabilization conference organized by the Tripoli-based government of national unity (GNU) on Thursday, skepticism continues to surround Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah’s promises to hold the elections on time.
Analysts dismissed his statements at the conference as mere posture, as the prime minister has so far done nothing on the ground to match his words.
They consider that Dbeibah follows policies similar to those of former Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who for years expressed his support for the holding of elections but never took concrete steps to that end. His blockade tactics, backed by Islamists, ultimately led to the Tripoli war.
Last February, the head of the Election Authority, Imad al-Sayeh, denounced the systematic obstruction of the elections by Sarraj during his tenure, despite his constant support for these elections and his vocal support for international initiatives to this end, in particular French and Emirati initiatives.
Dbeibah formed a “committee dedicated to supporting and holding elections,” echoing a similar initiative from Sarraj in 2017. Libyan sources have speculated that the main objective of the GNU in holding the Stability Conference in Libya was in fact to convince other countries of the need to postpone the elections using various arguments, even by proposing agreements and settlements. reconstruction contracts.
Dbeibah and his son-in-law and uncle, billionaire Ali Dbeibah, have close relationships with many Arab and Western countries due to his involvement in procurement during the Gaddafi era. This experience is likely to strengthen the arguments of the Dbeibah in their lobbying for the postponement of the poll, according to analysts.
Dbeibah dismissed suspicions about his lack of commitment to the national vote, insisting that the conference “is a reaffirmation of our continued support for the holding of the elections. It is also a contribution to the creation of good conditions for their organization and to the encouragement of all the Libyan parties to respect their result.
He also said: “We must thank the Presidency Council and the Joint 5 + 5 Military Committee for their efforts to address the military issue, which requires additional efforts and international support, given its importance. “
Dbeibah added, “Our meeting today is a reaffirmation of the will of the Libyans to end the suffering and our commitment to support the National High Electoral Commission for the holding of national elections on time, and also to confirm that the government of national unity has been made possible. by stability and peace in Libya after the difficult years that we have gone through.
Since coming to power, the Dbeibah government has, however, sent troubling messages about its commitment to the deadlines set by the roadmap. He took office in March when the elections were due to take place on December 24, 2021.
His government requested a large budget to finance its activities for the run-up to the elections and announced its intention to launch projects that fell outside the GNU’s transitional mandate, including the allocation of funds for reconstruction. This sparked disputes with parliament as lawmakers refused to pass Dbeibah’s budget
In addition, differences in government between ministers affiliated with the Eastern region and Dbeibah have indicated that cabinet members do not see their terms of office ending in a few months. Rather, the differences reflected long-term goals and ambitions.
Foremost of all contentious issues was the failure to reach a resolution on the departure of the mercenaries from the country. The exit of foreign fighters was supposed to precede the elections in order to strengthen the integrity of the ballot. Experts believe that holding the vote in the presence of Russian and Turkish mercenaries could yield the same results as the Geneva Dialogue, which reflected the interests of the influential powers on the ground, namely Russia and Turkey.
In the end, fears are growing over a possible postponement of the elections despite reassuring statements from national and international actors. A number of sources indicate that the forces controlling the land, including the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the president of the Parliament Aguila Saleh, do not support the holding of the elections.
These sources downplay the importance of the laws enacted by the ANL-allied parliament, which sparked much controversy and were rejected by the Islamist-controlled State Advisory Council. The same sources believe that the way the laws were enacted reflected an intention to obstruct the elections. Aguila Saleh is seen as having no interest in holding the poll, as the situation has changed for Haftar since his failed attempt to take Tripoli. He is no longer popular or considered in the west, and even in parts of the east, as the country’s savior from terrorism.