Delayed Elections: Libya at risk of Partition, UN envoy warns

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The new U.N. special envoy for Libya warned that the first anniversary of Libya’s postponed elections is near and further delaying a vote could lead the nation to even greater instability, putting it “at risk of partition.”

Abdoulaye Bathily told the U.N. Security Council that the October 2020 cease-fire continues to hold despite escalating rhetoric and a buildup of forces by rival governments in the country’s east and west.

Oil-rich Libya plunged into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. In the chaos that followed, the county split with the rival administrations backed by rogue militias and foreign governments.

The country’s current political crisis stems from the failure to hold elections on December 24, 2021, and the refusal of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who led a transitional government in the capital of Tripoli to step down.

Meanwhile, Bathily, a former Senegalese minister and diplomat who arrived in Libya in mid-October and has been traveling to all parts of the country, told the council that he has found Libyans hope “for peace, stability and legitimate institutions.”

“However, there is an increasing recognition that some institutional players are actively hindering progress towards elections,” he said.

He warned that further prolonging elections “will make the country even more vulnerable to political, economic and security instability” and could risk partition. And he urged Security Council members to “join hands in encouraging Libyan leaders to work with resolve towards the holding of elections as soon as possible.”

Bathily urged the council “to send an unequivocal message to obstructionists that their actions will not remain without consequences.”

He said the council make clear that ending the cease-fire and resorting to violence and intimidation “will not be accepted and that there is no military solution to the Libyan crisis.”