Libya’s rival officials meet in Egypt for talks on elections

April 13, 2022 GMT

CAIRO (AP) — Rival Libyan officials began talks Wednesday in the Egyptian capital on disputed constitutional arrangements for their country’s elections. The U.N.-brokered talks come as the North African nation is increasingly deadlocked.

Twelve lawmakers from Libya’s east-based parliament and 12 from the High Council of State, an advisory body in the capital of Tripoli, in western Libya, are taking part, according to the parliament’s spokesman, Abdullah Bliheg.

The U.N. special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, said the meetings in Cairo would conclude next Wednesday, hopefully with an agreement on a “solid constitutional basis and electoral framework.”

“You have a critical role to play in making your voice heard in support of your 2.8 million fellow Libyan citizens who have registered to vote,” she said, addressing the meeting.

Libya has been pulled apart again, with two rival governments claiming power after tentative steps towards unity in the past year, following a decade of civil war.

The oil-rich North African country has been wrecked by conflict since the NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country has for years been split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.

In February, the country’s east-based House of Representatives named a new prime minister, former interior minister Fathi Bashagha, to lead a new interim government.

The lawmakers there claimed the mandate of interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who is based in Tripoli, expired when the election failed to take place as planned in December.

Dbeibah, however, remined defiant against replacing his government, despite the resignations of a handful of ministers and the handover of government buildings in the southern and eastern regions to Bashagha’s government.

Over the past two months, divisions among Libyan factions deepened, with militias mobilizing — especially in the western region. That has raised fears fighting could return after more than a year and a half of relative calm.

The presidential vote was originally planned for Dec. 24, but was postponed over disputes between rival factions on laws governing the elections and controversial presidential hopefuls. That was a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos.