By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL- The Libya Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) is continuing its ongoing talks to select a temporary Presidency Council (PC) to lead Libya into national elections on December 24. The 74-member group, meeting under the auspices of the United Nations Support Mission In Libya (UNSMIL) began the candidate selection process on February 1 but so far, votes haven’t yielded just one candidate within the 75 percent threshold required under the voting law in Libya which many speculate may lead to a tripartite Presidency Council.
Acting Envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams reiterated that the purpose of the meetings this week is to conduct a fair, transparent election process where the entire Libyan society gets an opportunity to vet candidates for Libya’s Executive Council. The UNSMIL envoy praised what she termed as a “high number of nominations,” commenting: “I welcome the diversity represented by the pool of candidates who are drawn from all political and social components of the Libyan society.” Williams added that it’s a “positive sign” and lauded what she termed as “a high degree of buy-in and enthusiasm” on both sides.
UNSMIL’s acting envoy explained that what’s unique about this process is that the selection of the interim unified executive is based on a democratic process with all parties having an opportunity to choose and that it “is not an election in the traditional sense, open competition is good for democracy.” Williams also said: “This is the kind of competition that can only take place when the guns are silent.” The envoy reiterated that such a process would never have happened even a year ago. She explained that it involves listening to presentations of Presidency Council candidates who will answer questions from the LDPF as well as questions from the Libyan public that were collected through a dynamic digital dialogue session that Williams conducted on January31 with over 1,000 Libyan citizens – primarily the youth. Stephanie Williams emphasized that the goal is to maintain each session in as interactive a manner as possible while broadcasting them live to all Libyans. The envoy said: “This will be an open and transparent selection process that all Libyans are going to witness, day by day and minute by minute.” The reason they are doing it this way is to “respect our commitment to transparency,” Williams noted.
Williams emphasized there are numerous questions that must be answered by prospective Presidency Council candidates to find out where they stand on major issues that involve civil society and governance in Libya. She said questions cover a broad spectrum of issues such as honoring commitments to hold national elections on December 24 as well as whether candidates will make Libyan citizens’ interests a priority especially those displaced for decades. Other issues include honoring the separation of powers, prerogatives for the Presidency Council and the government which were agreed upon and whether there will be a commitment to civilian control of the military and an end to foreign interference in Libya’s internal affairs. Other issues include addressing divisiveness within Libyan institutions and whether there will be a commitment to govern for the people in a transparent manner that meets everyone’s needs not just the needs of a few.
The process will take place over the course of this week to select a temporary unified executive authority with a mandate defined by the Roadmap adopted in Tunis and with the main goal of taking Libya forward into what Williams termed “the sacred goal” of national elections on Dec. 24. She told the LPDF: “The Libyan people are behind you, they support you, they want you to succeed. They need you to succeed. Don’t let them down.” Williams concluded: “ It is our privilege as the United Nations to accompany you and support you on this journey and my pledge to you is that UNSMIL will put all its energy into ensuring that the International Community respects and validates the decisions you are about to make.”