Libya in 2023 – Uncertain political horizon without elections

Libya in 2023 – Uncertain political horizon without elections. Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al Islam, warns of the consequences of being excluded from participating in the elections.

Libya in 2023 – Uncertain political horizon without elections

A new year begins and Libya is still dragging behind it an electoral miscarriage that prevents the North African country from turning the page on decades of political rifts. Since the High National Electoral Commission annulled the suspension of the elections of 24 December 2021, no new election day has been scheduled to initiate the long-awaited political transition.

This difficult crossroads between the National Liberation Army, which controls the eastern part of the country, and the Government of National Unity, which controls the west, including the capital, Tripoli, means that any attempt at elections for Libyans is being blurred. All the more so as the Prime Minister of the GNU, Abdul Hamid Ddeibé, who is in charge of reunifying state institutions and ensuring security until the next elections, is reluctant to leave office more than a year before the deadline he was due to step down.

Uncertain political horizon

This, however, is one of the direct consequences of the main parties in charge of initiating a constitutionally based electoral process: the Supreme Council of State and the Parliament, who disagree on the conditions for running for the presidency. While the former is in favour of barring military personnel and dual nationals from running for president, the parliament argues that anyone should be allowed to run.

The same stumbling block for which the failed 2021 elections were annulled, due to legal doubts about the conditions required to run for president of Libya. “After consulting the technical, judicial and security reports, we report the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of 24 December 2021,” said Imad el Sayeh, chairman of the High National Electoral Commission.

Such conditions are by no means a trivial matter, especially given Libya’s recent past where the current top leaders have been involved, in one way or another, in a fatuous war since the uprising against Gaddafi, and are now being charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Saif al-Islam

The most controversial, Muammar Gaddafi’s own son, Saif al-Islam, is still awaiting an arrest warrant from the ICC for alleged crimes committed in 2011 against dissidents. Saif al-Islam has already filed his candidacy for the failed elections and wants to do so again for the next elections to be held. This past 24 December, a year after the elections were held, he returned to the political scene by issuing a statement warning of the consequences of his exclusion from participating in the elections. Saif Al-Islam also accused the main political parties of aborting the elections and confiscating the will of the Libyan people.


The other figure, also accused of crimes against humanity by the ICC, is General Khalifa Haftar of the National Army for National Liberation, committed during the 14 months of his attack on Tripoli. And if Saif Al-Islam spoke out on the election anniversary, Khalifa Haftar did not want to be left behind and gave a speech in which he called for a last chance to agree on a roadmap that includes elections in Libya. He also demanded that in these elections no region be “marginalised”, because “only Libyans are capable of resolving their problem and establishing a unified state”. These statements were in response to recent speculation that the marshal might be in favour of independence for the Cyrenaica region.

In any case, these declarations are in response to international pressure for elections. In this context, the African Union (AU) has taken the initiative to lead reconciliation and try to unblock the Libyan situation at a conference to be held this January in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to which the main political actors are being invited. Saif Al Islam has already responded positively to the official invitation. This initiative, as early as 2023, could make Libya’s electoral dream a reality.