US and European powers urge Libya to reschedule presidential vote 'swiftly'

AFP , Friday 24 Dec 2021

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States on Friday urged war-torn Libya to quickly set a new date for delayed presidential elections.

A man reads a local newspaper in the Libyan capital Tripoli, on December 23, 2021, with an article on its front page about the postponement of the country s presidential elections.

"We call on the relevant Libyan authorities to respect the aspirations of the Libyan people for prompt elections by swiftly determining a final date for the polling and issuing the final list of presidential candidates without delay," said a joint statement from five nations.

The authorities overseeing Libya's first presidential election said earlier this week holding it on Friday as scheduled would be "impossible".

The vote was intended to mark a fresh start for the oil-rich North African country, a year after a landmark ceasefire and more than a decade after its 2011 revolt that toppled and killed strongman Muammar Ghaddafi.

But speculation of a delay had been mounting for weeks. There were bitter disputes over the vote's legal basis, the powers of the winner and the candidacies of several deeply divisive figures.

On Wednesday, the chairman of the parliamentary committee overseeing the vote wrote to the assembly's speaker saying that "after consulting the technical, judicial and security reports, we inform you of the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of December 24, 2021".

It did not propose an alternative to Friday, a date set last year during UN-led peace talks in Tunis.

The country's electoral commission, the HNEC, later Wednesday suggested delaying the vote to January 24.

Libya's parliament is to meet on Monday to debate a new timeline for elections.

The election, intended to go hand-in-hand with parliamentary polls, was part of a United Nations-led peace process, yet UN special envoy Jan Kubis resigned just weeks before the ballot.

One point of contention was a presidential elections law controversially passed by parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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