In early 2021, Libyan politicians agreed on terms for a national unity government bringing together what had been two administrations in Tripoli and Tobruk. The accord was another step toward lasting stability following the October 2020 ceasefire between the two rival militaries. Unifying national institutions is taking time, however, and several possible pitfalls lie ahead. Through research and advocacy, Crisis Group aims to keep the national unity agreement intact and the various associated processes on track, encouraging dialogue among Libyans and vigorous engagement on the part of the UN and external powers with influence in the country.

CrisisWatch Libya

Unchanged Situation

Political deadlock persisted despite headlines suggesting that rival factions reached agreement on election laws while selection of new interim govt remained controversial.

Stakeholders sent contradictory signals on elections and new govt. Following series of meetings in Moroccan town of Bouznika, members of 6+6 joint committee – composed of House of Representatives (HoR) and rival Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC) representatives – early June announced agreement on legal framework for presidential and parliamentary elections. HoR Speaker Aguila Saleh and head of HSC Khaled Meshri 6-7 June travelled to Morocco but failed to sign off on electoral legislation as points of contentions persisted, notably on whether military officers can run for president. Meanwhile, amid competing plans aimed at appointing new interim govt before elections take place, eastern forces commander Khalifa Haftar 16 June congratulated outcome of Morocco talks and called for formation of “technocratic” govt to oversee election preparation, suggesting that he may now favour parliament-led selection process, rather than keeping Tripoli-based PM Dabaiba in office as part of power-sharing deal. In briefing to UN Security Council, UN Envoy to Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 20 June said failure to reach agreement among major stakeholders on eligibility criteria for presidential election, linkage between presidential and parliamentary elections, and formation of new unified govt could “trigger a new crisis”.

Tripoli conducted fresh strikes in west. Dabaiba 1 June insisted drones strikes carried out late May in western Libya targeted sites used by “criminal gangs” for human trafficking, drug and fuel smuggling, denying HoR claims that strikes were aimed at “settling political scores”; Dabaiba also denied Turkish involvement in strikes. Forces loyal to Dabaiba 7-8 June conducted fresh strikes near Zuwara city, reportedly targeting fuel smuggling site.

Tensions over control of oil wealth threatened to escalate. Eastern-based PM Osama Hammad 24 June threatened to impose blockade on oil and gas facilities to prevent exports in protest at alleged unfair distribution of oil revenues by Tripoli-based authorities; 26 June said he discussed mater with Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation Chairman Farhat Bengdara.

In other important developments. Drone strikes 29 June reportedly hit Al-Kharruba airbase used by Russian paramilitary group Wagner; Tripoli-based authorities denied responsibility.

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In The News

12 Jan 2023
There is a need for the UN envoy to play a more proactive role in coordinating international positions and putting pressure on Libyan actors to move the situation forward... Atalayar

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa

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Claudia Gazzini

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