Libyan negotiations in Egypt last chance for settlement to elections: analysts

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The third round of negotiations between Libyan parties, hosted in Egypt’s Cairo under the UN auspices, have been continuing for days aiming to achieve constitutional consensus for a settlement to the general elections.

Analysts said the negotiations are crucial and the last chance to reach a consensus on a Libyan constitutional draft that may lead to successful elections. However, if the negotiations fail, it could threaten the ceasefire agreement signed in October 2020 and bring unprecedented relative stability to Libya.

In March, Libya’s eastern-based House of Representatives or the parliament, and the Tripoli-based High Council of State formed a joint committee to reach a firm constitutional basis for sooner national elections. The two sides reached consensus on 37 articles of the constitution in the previous round of talks in Cario, the UN Support Mission in Libya said last month.

Faraj al-Dali, a Libyan political analyst, told Xinhua on Saturday that the negotiations between the Libyan parties in Cairo are a “real and rare opportunity to close the difficult constitutional path issue,” as the lack of the constitutional rule or a constitution regulating the elections is the biggest obstacle facing the elections.

Al-Dali said “the negotiations are more crucial and important than the previous ones, as they seek to reach consensus on a Libyan constitutional draft or rule that can be accepted by all the conflicting parties, and may lead to a chance for successful elections after failing to hold them on the scheduled date later last year.”

Libya failed to hold general elections in December 2021, due to disagreements on the election laws among the Libyan parties.

Iman Jalal, a Libyan law professor, believes that the international community including Egypt strongly supports consensus between the Libyans to end the constitutional dispute.

“Egypt is fully aware that any elections in Libya are doomed to fail and that the results will not be accepted by all the Libyan parties, as long as a constitutional rule regulating the elections is missing,” Jalal told Xinhua.

Among the main factors that led to the failure of the elections are legal challenges against articles related to the powers and the term of the president, which are sensitive points to all the Libyan parties, Jalal explained.

Since earlier last week, negotiations between the Libyan parties have been continuing to discuss consensus on a constitutional track.

According to members of the Libyan dialogue committee, there is great agreement on most of the articles, while the dispute remains on some controversial points related to the mechanisms of election and powers of the head of state.

Stephanie Williams, a special adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Libya, on Thursday commended the members of the Libyan Joint Committee constitutional consultations for “continuing to work toward consensus and urge them to fulfill their duty to the Libyan people, who have demonstrated desire for an election by registering to vote by the millions.”

Imad Jalloul, a Libyan political analyst, believes that the Cairo meetings should lead to final understandings to avoid the possibility of war and conflict in Libya.

“Cairo can play a major role in bringing the House of Representatives and the Higher Council of State together, as it has its own influential tools in the Libyan issue. The results of the third and final round could bridge the gap (between the Libyan parties),” Jalloul told Xinhua.

“Failure (to agree on a constitutional path) means a new international solution or plan that will replace elections as soon as possible and prevent armed conflict,” Jalloul said.

Some members of the dialogue committees in Cairo told local media that those close to Williams told them that the international community has alternative plans to resolve the failure of the joint dialogue committee to find a solution to end the dispute over the constitutional path leading to the elections.

The UN has not yet officially announced the steps to be taken after the end of the Libyan dialogue in Cairo during the next two days. However, the UN stressed its support for its outcomes and described it as a rare and important opportunity for the Libyans to end their differences, end the transitional stages, and hold elections.

Libya has been suffering escalating violence and political instability ever since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.

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