Libya rivals begin Morocco talks amid doubts over elections

Libya rivals begin talks in Morocco amid doubts over December elections
3 min read
30 September, 2021
A new round of talks between Libya’s rival House of Representatives and High Council of State began in the Moroccan capital Rabat, amid failure to agree on laws governing elections due to be held on 24 December.
Morocco has played a key role in mediating talks between rival Libyan factions [Getty]

A new round of talks will begin on Thursday in the Moroccan capital Rabat between Libya’s rival High Council of State (HCS), which is based in Tripoli, and the House of Representatives (HOR), situated in the east of the country and once allied to warlord Khalifa Haftar.

The two sides are due to discuss elections which are scheduled for 24 December but which seem increasingly doubtful amid the failure of the two sides to agree an electoral law.

Earlier this month, HCS, which acts as the upper house of the Libyan parliament, called for elections to be postponed. It had previously rejected election laws passed by the east-based HOR, which is acting as the lower house.

In October 2020 Libya’s warring sides signed a peace agreement meant to unify the country's two rival administrations but tensions have increased recently with the failure of the parties to agree on an electoral law and further set back by the HOR's no-confidence motion' in Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah’s interim government.

Libyan sources close to the negotiations due to take place in Morocco told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the two sides would try to reach an agreement on laws governing both presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as the constitutional basis for the vote.

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The sources, which preferred to remain anonymous, said that discussions would centre around conditions for the candidacy of the presidential elections. The HCS is demanding that candidates cannot be members of the armed forces and must have left military service at least two years before.

The HCS’s position appears to be based on fears that warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose forces still control most of eastern Libya, will try to run for the presidency.

The Haftar-allied HOR says that members of the armed forces should be able to run for the presidency immediately upon resigning their commission.

Omar Boushah, the second deputy head of the HCS’s, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that they wanted elections to be held on time.

He said that the negotiations aimed to produce "a political agreement so Libyan elections can be held on time", adding that "the High Council of State is serious about harmony and agreement… I hope that we will get past all the differences and individual interests and come to a major national accord".

Morocco has previously hosted five rounds of talks between the HOR and the HCS in the cities of Bouznika and Tangiers. The two sides previously agreed on a mechanism by which the seven most important offices of state are filled.

Morocco is currently urging both sides to hold parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December, as originally planned. Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita has recently held talks with HOR speaker Aguila Saleh and the head of the HCS, Khaled Al-Mishri.