LPDF approves selection mechanism for new Libyan executive authority
On 19 January, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced that the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) had approved the LPDF Advisory Committee’s recommendation for a mechanism for selecting the reformed Presidential Council and new executive authority in Libya. All 75 members of the LPDF were called upon to vote on the Advisory Committee’s recommendations. Seventy-two LPDF members engaged in the voting, with 51 voting in favour of the proposed mechanism and 19 members voting against. Two members abstained and three others did not engage in the process. With 73% of the votes cast being in favour of the mechanism, the proposal passed by exceeded the stipulated threshold of the voting process, set by the Advisory Committee at 63% of the cast votes.
UNSMIL badly needed to show progress on the LPDF. Following allegations of corruption and infighting in the LPDF last year, the UN-led political dialogue appeared to be stalled. On 13 January, the Advisory Committee of the LPDF met in Geneva. In her opening address, the Acting Head of UNSMIL, Stephanie Williams, recognised that the LPDF had ‘stalled’ and called for the creation of a unitary authority to govern Libya that rests on a ‘participatory formula where there is no victor [and] no vanquished’ rather than on the traditional approach of power sharing. Williams called for a ‘Libyan-Libyan solution’ and explicitly rejected claims that UNSMIL is seeking to impose its preferred candidates.
The UN must be hoping that the approval of the selection mechanism, the appointment of a new head of UNSMIL, and the prospect of the deployment of international monitors to Libya will together provide a much-needed boost for the UN-sponsored peace process and succeed, at least in the immediate term, in holding off any competing processes backed by Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and the UAE. However, even if the new selection mechanism is largely considered acceptable by major factions within Libya, this does not mean that the mechanism will be able to produce a unitary government that is accepted on the ground in Libya. The agreement reached by the LPDF relates only to the selection mechanism for choosing candidates who may join the new executive authority; the candidates still have to be selected and appointed.