UNSMIL calls on HoR to amend electoral law for simultaneous elections
On 30 October, in the run up to an anticipated House of Representatives (HoR) session regarding the existing laws for national presidential and parliamentary elections, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) released a statement calling upon the HoR to amend its electoral laws to enable simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 December of this year. In its statement UNSMIL called for the HoR to approve the High National Elections Commission’s (HNEC) recommendations in order to enable elections that were ‘free, fair, inclusive, and credible’. On 31 October, HoR spokesperson Abdullah Belhaq confirmed that the HoR would not be holding a session in the coming week. According to Belhaq, he had not received anything from the ‘Presidency of the Council’ regarding the proposal to amend the presidential elections law.
On 24 October, HNEC head Emad Sayeh confirmed that elections would be governed by the HoR’s legislation, according to which presidential elections will be held on 24 December and the date for the parliamentary elections would be decided by the existing HoR 30 days following their conclusion. However, Sayeh clarified that HNEC was attempting to work with the HoR to amend the law so that the polling day for the first round of the presidential elections would occur on 24 December, with voting for the second round to coincide with the parliamentary elections. The results from both the presidential and parliamentary elections would then be announced at the same time under HNEC’s amendments. The HoR’s staggered framework is at odds with the original Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) framework, which requires both elections to occur together on 24 December based on broad consensus.
On 25 October, Sayeh met with the HoR’s Legal Committee and First Deputy Speaker of the HoR, Fawzi Nuwari, in Tubruq to discuss amendments to the HoR’s electoral laws and HNEC’s preparations. Following the meeting, HoR spokesperson Belhaq stated that the HoR was keen to see elections occur on time and that the HoR was ‘in a permanent session until the completion of the national electoral process and work on facilitating the HNEC’s work and overcoming any difficulties in the conduct of the electoral process.’
UNSMIL’s statement is notable because it explicitly recognises and accepts the HoR’s unilateral decision-making on the electoral laws and its role as the sole and final arbitrator of the electoral framework. This empowerment of the HoR is the antithesis of what the original UN roadmap intended. The HoR now controls who can run for elections and when, meaning it currently controls the course of Libya’s political future – one in which they want to maintain power and not facilitate change. The HoR’s delaying of its session indicates that it is not serious about making any significant amendments to the current electoral laws, and highlights that UNSMIL is unable to bring any meaningful pressure to bear on the HoR. As such, parliamentary and presidential elections are highly unlikely to occur simultaneously on 24 December of this year, and any elections that do go ahead will likely be skewed in favour of the HoR and its interests.