Over the past decade, Egypt has suffered serious security repercussions due to the insecurity, chaos, and political crises in Libya.
The two North African nations share a long border that extends for nearly 1,050 kilometres. The security vacuum and the fragmentation of Libyan institutions after the fall of the rule of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi led to a state of instability on the borders between the two countries.
This matter played a role in the growth of organised crime in its various forms such as arms smuggling, drug and human trafficking, and others.
Egypt is not the only country that suffers from the smuggling of Libyan weapons into its territory. Rather, this issue has become a common crisis for all neighbouring countries, and it has played a fundamental role in worsening the security crises in recent years in the countries of what is known as the “Sahel and Sahara belt”, which includes North African countries and African countries adjacent to it from the south.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune warned at the beginning of this year, in an interview with the French newspaper “Le Figaro”, about the increase in security risks emanating from Libya.
He said, “the state of instability experienced by the African Sahel region is due to the deterioration of the situation in the eastern neighbour of his country.”
The Algerian president stressed that “the deterioration of the situation in neighbouring Libya helped the transfer of heavy weapons towards the African Sahel region, which led to the deterioration of the security situation in the region.”
On February 7, the Libyan House of Representatives approved the 13th constitutional amendment to become a “constitutional basis” through which the expected parliamentary and presidential elections will be held. However, the House of Representatives did not mention anything about the conditions for running for the presidency that hindered the implementation of the previous elections. Yet, it stressed that “the law determines the conditions for candidacy,” referring to the laws that will be issued by the Supreme Authority for Elections.
The new amendment also resolves the nature of the country’s political system, which was a matter of dispute between several parties, in favour of the presidential system, rather than the parliamentary or semi-presidential system.
According to what is published, the president is elected directly by the people, and he has the power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister.
The head of government is appointed by the head of state and not by the parliamentary majority, and therefore it is a system closer to the presidency than to the semi-presidential.
On the other hand, the constitutional amendment stripped several powers from the president, such as dissolving the National Assembly (Parliament), represented by the House of Representatives and the Senate, except under specific conditions. Article 23 also stipulates that the president of the state may not dissolve the House of Representatives and the Senate except through a popular referendum, and after “referring the reasons and justifications to the Supreme Court.”
It is also not permissible to dissolve the two houses at the same time, during the first year of their session, during a state of emergency, or during The last six months of the president’s term, which is limited to only four years instead of five.
Accordingly, this amendment would deprive the Presidential Council, headed by Muhammad al-Munfi, of dissolving the House of Representatives and the State Council (the Senate).
The Council of State benefits from this amendment by changing its name to the “Senate”, thus becoming a second chamber of Parliament, rather than being an advisory council. But at the same time, the political agreement requires the House of Representatives to agree with the Senate on the constitutional basis and the laws it issues.
Concerning the legislative authority, the House of Representatives represents the legislative authority in Libya, while the role of the Council of State is advisory. However, the political agreement signed in 2015 in Skhirat, Morocco, between the Libyan political parties under the auspices of the United Nations, puts the two houses equally in taking fateful decisions to resolve the crisis, as they represent the parties to the conflict.
According to the United Nations initiative, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Council of the State have been holding stalled negotiations for about a year to agree on a “constitutional rule” that will lead the country to elections that will end the political crisis represented by the conflict between two governments over power.
The new Libyan step is welcomed by Egypt, which has always called for giving priority to the language of reason, giving the Libyan people all the freedom to take what they see in the interest of their country, away from the threat of seeking help from external forces or through terrorist or armed organizations that try to impose the agendas of external and regional parties on the people’s choices.
We hope that this amendment will remove one of the thorniest issues that led to the worsening of the political situation in the country and bring it to a dead end about holding the presidential elections in Libya. We also hope that this amendment will turn into an important step in terms of fulfilling the necessary frameworks for holding the Libyan presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously, as soon as possible, under the supervision of a neutral executive authority that upholds the supreme interests of the state of Libya.
The Egyptian vision has not changed and relies on its full support for the path of the Libyan-Libyan solution and the restoration of this country unified under the administration of its people, depending on the efforts of the House of Representatives, the only elected legislative body in Libya, and the Supreme Council of State. The Egyptian vision also affirms the rejection of any external dictates to the Libyans or bypassing the role of Libyan institutions following the Skhirat Agreement. However, the greatest burden that falls on all parties involved in the Libyan crisis is to adhere to these new foundations and determinants, close the door to external interference in Libya, and remove all foreign forces, foreign fighters, and mercenaries from it.
Dr Hatem Sadek is a Professor at Helwan University