Libya’s 2018 elections: A dictator’s son vs. who?

The throne of the Libyan monarchy, a country everybody is vying for as it were, has been empty since the ousting of the deceased Moamar Gaddafi in October 2011, with different transitional phases shaping the Libya which we know now.

But enough with chaos, lawlessness and disorder, said the Tripoli-based officials and agreed the eastern ones, plus the southern ones, though the latter are entirely marginalized in this game of thrones.

Libya’s elections in the making

The Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Fayez Al-Sirraj, started the while initiative of elections off in last June, then he and the commander of eastern self-styled Libyan National Army Khalifa Haftar both met in Paris at the invitation of the French President Emmanuel Macron to commit to elections – both presidential and parliamentary.

The notion of elections, said Al-Sirraj and Macron was the only way to let the Libyan people have the final say in the current strife for power, and Haftar, who is at odds with Al-Sirraj government, agreed in July in Paris on the notion.

Later, to more assure that Libya’s only and only way out of the crisis, which is all political and little anything else, the Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Ghassan Salame proposed an action plan in late September 2017 to commit Libyan parties to different stages of action, which all lead to elections in 2018.

The idea then became a solid understanding and was mapped out by Salame and presented to the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, which approved it and called on all Libyan conflicting parties to act upon it.

The High National Elections Commision did its bit and in less than two months by December, it announced in a joint presser with the Head of the UNSMIL the start of the voter registration so that all Libyans can take part in the upcoming elections and pick their own leader by their own will. And yes, about a million Libyans have so far registered for possible voters in the elections, which the HNEC said will be roughly around September 30, urging the Tobruk-based House of Representatives to issue an elections law and start a referendum on Libya’s constitution.

Competition rises

Preparations for the elections are somewhat going in the right directions, with the popular support being the most driving force for it, however; whom would the public elect? Who are those Libyan candidates that will be competing democratically for the post of Libya President, among other legislative posts.

Ali Zeidan

Rumor has it on the media – since all Libyans are now reliant on media for everything that happens in their life, even so in knowing who will run to rule their country if elections will be held in 2018 – that the former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who was in office between 2012 and 2014, will present himself as the future leader of the new Libya under the democratic privilege of the elections.

One might say, what’s wrong with that, until you figure out with some little google search that Ali Zeidan cost Libya about 71 billion dollars in one year as a budget for his government, most of which evaporated on undocumented transactions and agreements, not to mention that he has a German citizenship and the new constitution bans dual nationals from being elected for sovereign posts, though the constitution has not been passed yet.

Saif Gaddafi

The son of the dictator – as most Libyans call him based on experience more than anything – Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi is also running for president and the news came for his family’s spokesman Basem al-Hashimi Al-Soul.

Al-Soul explained Saif Gaddafi is seeking to become the president of Libya and he is aiming to have a role in the future of Libya and that will be via the elections in 2018 as he “enjoys the support of major tribes in Libya.”

Saif was – in some mysterious manner – released last June from his six-year imprisonment in Zintan city, citing a pardon by the Interim Government in eastern Libya. His whereabouts are not known still, with many reckoning that he is staying in eastern Libya.

The new Gaddafi has caused quite a controversy in Libya, both on media outlets and social media as well as on the streets. Some said he should come back and he will have their votes because he knows better than the “militias” that are ruling Libya now, but others said he is the son of a dictator and there’s blood of the February revolutionaries on his hand, adding that he will seek revenge on the revolutionaries if by some miracle he came to power again.

Saif is wanted by both the Libyan court and the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He is sentenced to death by a firing squad in absentia in Libya. Yet, he is plotting his return, when and where, nobody yet knows.

Khalifa Haftar

A third candidate is the warlord of eastern Libya, the commander of Dignity Operation in Benghazi and the military officer who is supported by the Interim Government and the eastern parliament in Libya, Khalifa Haftar. He agreed in July to the Macron-Al-Sirraj agreement on elections in 2018, but he never agreed to recognize Al-Sirraj and his Skhirat-signed UN-brokered government as a legitimate body. He announced the GNA and its bodies as obsolete on December 2017, saying he and his army forces will take matters onto their hands as Libyans wish.

Haftar also announced all the officials of the GNA as personae non gratae in the eastern region, then he slammed the preparation of elections as nonsensical at this point of the Libyan crisis, so that his loyalists started tearing up the electoral posters in eastern cities and towns and shutting down polling locations demanding mandating Haftar as the leader of Libya.

Haftar’s loyalist also issued statements and held demonstrations in Benghazi and other cities calling for mandating him as the ruler of Libya, demanding an end to the elections’ preparations saying “We only need Haftar as the president here in east Libya, we don’t need elections or anything like that.”

Democracy or another Fallacy

Now as never before, all Libyans are on the same boat. It is the boat that is sinking due to the many passengers (crises) on it. Terrible economy, dying financial institutions, day-to-day suffering for people as there is no cash at the banks, no good education for kids and adults, not enough electric power during the day and night, frequent shortages of fuel and water as well as cooking gas and you name it! All of the above beg for democratic transition, where the suffering Libyans can choose someone with an agenda that prioritize their living conditions to anything else.

The views expressed in Op-Ed pieces are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Libyan Express.
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