Libya's rival parliamentary chambers in new election dispute

Libya's rival parliamentary chambers in renewed election dispute as Tripoli house rejects law
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Libya's Tripoli-based senate equivalent said on Tuesday it had rejected a law passed by the Tobruk house ahead of the planned December elections.
Libya's Tripoli-based senate equivalent rejected a Tobruk election-related law [Paul Simmons/EyeEm/Getty]

Two rival Libyan factions have again disagreed over legislation governing elections planned for December, raising further doubts on Tuesday over whether the UN-backed polls can take place.

In the latest dispute, the equivalent of Libya's senate, based in the western city of Tripoli, said on Tuesday that it had rejected a law that eastern-based MPs adopted a day earlier on the planned legislative elections scheduled for 24 December.

The polls are supposed to help unify the country after years of conflict and division, but disputes over their legal and constitutional basis have again laid bare the extent of the split between the country's east and west.

The Tripoli-based chamber "rejects ongoing violations by the parliament... the latest being the promulgation of what it called the 'electoral law of the parliament'," said Mohammed Nasser, spokesman for the body formally known as the High Council of State.

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On Twitter he wrote that a deal signed in 2015 requires parliament "to come to an agreement with the High Council of State on this law".

Legislators would be held responsible for "any delay or disruption to the date of the elections due to unilateral actions", he added.

The law passed on Monday by the eastern-based chamber in the city of Tobruk came less than a month after Aguila Saleh, speaker of that body which is known as the House of Representatives or parliament, signed off on legislation for a presidential election also to be held on 24 December.

Opponents said the move bypassed due process and favoured a run by his ally, the eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar.

The High Council of State also rejected the text covering the presidential poll.

Libya has endured a decade of conflict since the 2011 fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising, which unleashed a complex civil war that dragged in multiple foreign powers.

A landmark ceasefire between eastern and western camps last year, following a year-long military campaign by Haftar to seize Tripoli, paved the way for the United Nations-backed peace process.

A new unity government took office in March with a mandate to lead the country to the December elections.

The House of Representatives said on its website on Monday that "by passing the laws necessary for the upcoming elections", it had "ended one of the most dangerous phases in Libya's modern history".