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Confirmed: Libya to Hold Elections Following Constitutional Reform

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The Libyan High Council of State approved a constitutional amendment to provide a basis for elections, but it appears that little progress has been made on the differences in the way polls are held in the country.

Earlier this week, the United Nations special envoy for Libya moved to take charge of the stalled political process to enable elections seen as the key to resolving years of conflict.

Libya has been mired in political stalemate since late 2021 when scheduled elections were called off due to disagreements over rules and the House of Representatives, based in the east of the country, withdrew its support from the UN-recognised interim government.

Since then, peacemaking efforts have focused on getting the House of Representatives and the High Council of State to agree on a constitutional basis for elections and voting rules.

Thursday’s vote approved a constitutional amendment passed by the House of Representatives last month and presented as a step towards holding elections.

Foreign powers have long indicated that significant political changes need approval by the House of Representatives and the High Council of State under a 2015 deal aimed at creating a short transitional period that would eventually resolve the conflict.

On Monday, UN envoy Abdullahi Bathily cited the 2015 agreement saying he was setting up a steering committee of prominent Libyan figures to adopt a time-bound roadmap for elections.

He said, in statements targeting the House of Representatives elected in 2014 and the Supreme Council of State emanating from a chamber elected in 2012, that “most institutions lost their legitimacy years ago.”

Prior to its approval, Batelli described the amendment as “controversial within the Libyan political class and citizens in general,” noting that it did not address contentious issues such as the eligibility of candidates or a clear timetable for elections.

Many Libyans have become suspicious that their political leaders are negotiating in good faith, saying their real goal is to delay any elections that could cost them positions of power and privilege.

Tim Eaton of the Chatham House think tank in London said the amendment made it more difficult to marginalize the two councils.

“There is a ‘detente’ every time it seems that the House of Representatives and the High Council of State will lose control of the process,” he said.

He added that the latest mod appeared to create new maze processes that would only launch subsequent processes, calling it “a process for the sake of the process”.

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