By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL- While the clock continues its count down to election day on December 24 in Libya, much skepticism surrounds what might actually happen prior to and on the day of the elections for presidential and parliamentary elections. The international community is closely observing the current situation in Libya and Turkey is one of the nations that has a major stake in seeing the creation of a democratic Libya come to fruition. While Turkey fully supports Libya’s UN-led election process slated for December 24, Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said – he added that Turkey will continue to support the Libyan people and their legitimate government no matter what the election outcome is. In statements to the Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency, Kalın reiterated that the Turkish government emphasizes the need for transparent explanations to the Libyan people in case the elections have to be postponed. Kalın stressed that there must be a definite roadmap for the electoral race, expressing that Turkey believes these steps are extremely necessary to prove the legitimacy of the existing government and the consistency of the procedures that will be taken in the runup to the election date.
The conundrum surrounding Libya’s upcoming elections lies in a confidential report put out by the United Nations completed by experts from the UN who confirm that the increased pace of buildup of banned arms shipments to Libya though substantially decreased – the arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council remains ineffective due to the control of “some member states” over supply chains which is a direct hindrance to the discovery or disruption of arms transfers to Libya. An interim report received by 15 Security Council members did confirm that the continued presence of mercenaries from Chad, Sudan, Syria and Russia is a serious threat to Libya’s path toward a democratic future. Those Security Council members are dismayed that parties to the conflict insist on keeping foreign fighters in their forces in spite of international demands for withdrawal. An example are Syrian mercenaries from Turkey who receive salaries in the range of between 800-2,000 USD per month the report said while the number of Russian military flights to eastern Libya and the Central African Republic decreased by 55% and the flights operated by the Turkish army to western Libya decreased by 64%.
Meanwhile, in the UN report, UN experts warn that there is a huge weapons stockpile that would be enough to kickstart a future conflict. They also highlighted the fact that the largest region in Libya remains under the control of Libyan armed groups that benefit from a conciliatory approach used by interim authorities. The report covers the period between January and November 2021 by monitoring information from inside Libya, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Tunisia. The experts who prepared the report are mandated by the Security Council to monitor the extent to which countries respect its decision to prevent sending weapons to Libya.
Another issue that remains a thorn in Libya’s future is the fact that a number of military leaders from Misrata have indicated they will not accept the participation of warlord and commander of the Libya National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar, and they are also not willing to accept Saif al-Islam Gaddafi running for president either. In a televised statement, the leaders warned: “The flawed electoral laws opened the way for those seeking to militarize the state and impose the individual rule.” They made it clear that Libya will reenter an endless cycle of violence if the “criminals” take power in the upcoming election. These leaders specifically pointed out that they completely reject both Haftar and Saif taking any position. They commented: “We refuse to communicate with Haftar, his sons and Saif Gaddafi. We are the striking force on the ground.” These military leaders also denounced the decision to hold presidential elections before the referendum on the constitution and condemned the electoral commission’s work by explaining that it lacks impartiality. Their statement calls for the election of a parliament that would complete the constitution and they are demanding that the UN mission not interfere in Libyan affairs. The leaders say the solution must originate with the Libyan people and not be imposed from outside.