Libyan lawmakers meet over postponement of presidential election
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Libyan lawmakers meet to discuss the many challenges that forced the postponement of the troubled North African nation’s long-awaited presidential election this month
The parliament, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, met to vote on the Libyan electoral commission’s proposal to hold the vote on January 24. According to the proposal, the presidential election would be followed by parliamentary elections a month later, on February 15.
There were no immediate details of Monday’s parliamentary session held in the eastern city of Tobruk. Abdullah Bliheg, spokesman for the legislature, said lawmakers would discuss “ways to support” the electoral commission’s efforts to organize the vote.
Stephanie Williams, UN special advisor on Libya, implored lawmakers to “urgently address” the challenges raised by the National High Electoral Commission “to move the electoral process forward”.
A few dozen people demonstrated outside the seat of parliament in Tobruk, calling for the vote to be held as soon as possible. They held signs with slogans such as: “The Libyan people reject the postponement of the elections”.
The Libyan national elections were for a year the cornerstone of the UN’s efforts to bring peace to the oil-rich North African country.
Other key obstacles in the way of the poll are a long-standing rift between the east and west of the country and the presence of thousands of foreign fighters and troops supporting each side.
The failure of the vote last Friday raised fears that Libya could sink again into a new outbreak of fighting.
Libya plunged into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed.
In recent years, the country has been divided between rival governments: one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter, and a UN-backed administration in the capital Tripoli to the west. Each camp is supported by different militias and foreign powers.
A looming political vacuum is another threat, with some lawmakers saying the interim government’s term ended on December 24, the day the vote was scheduled.
Suliman al-Harrari, head of the parliament’s home affairs committee, told Fawasel, a media website, that the legislature would deliberate whether the interim government could remain in charge until the vote is taken.
The government – a three-member Presidential Council and a cabinet headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah – was appointed earlier this year, with the task of leading the nation until the vote on December 24.
Dbeibah had also announced his presidential candidacy.
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