Hiding behind a pretext of constitutionality, HSC continues to indirectly resist the holding of elections |

By Sami Zaptia.

Khaled Mishri, the head of the HSC, challenges the holding of elections in court (Photo: MoI).

Tripoli, November 6, 2021:

As the world continues to press for a Libyan election to be held on December 24, 2021, the unelected High Council of State (HSC) (since 2015) continues to indirectly seek to prevent elections from being held at all costs.

At a press conference in Tripoli on Wednesday, Khaled Mishri, the head of the HSC, reaffirmed his real anti-electoral stance by announcing that he was contesting the holding of elections to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.

During the press conference, Mishri a priori stressed his position in favor of the electoral process but insisted that they rest on what he called “a solid legal and constitutional foundation”.

He said he unilaterally rejected electoral laws issued by the House of Representatives, violating the political agreement (Skhirat 2015 LPA) and the constitutional declaration (2011).

He pointed out that the HSC has taken all legal steps against these laws and challenged them in the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.

Analysis: status quo of dinosaurs

It will be remembered that Mishri conveniently hides behind the fig leaf of legality and constitutionality when there is nothing in Libya’s current political system that is fully legal or constitutional. The process since the militia coup in Tripoli in 2014 has consisted of tinkering and political compromises rather than constitutionally sound processes.

These were solutions designed to prevent an all-out war between militias and the total disintegration of Libya.

Mishri depends on Libya’s inability to agree on a legal and constitutional constitution. It builds its existence on the political and ethnic fault lines of Libya. He knows that a referendum on the draft constitution will not take place for a year or years. Such a referendum requires reconciliation and consensus between the different political, regional, tribal and ethnic Libyan layers.

Need for an Arab consensus with the Tebu, Tuareg and Amazigh minorities

He needs the majority of Arab Libyans to reach a settlement with the country’s Tébou, Tuareg and Amazigh ethnic minorities. It’s not on the horizon any time soon. Mishri and his HSC know this and are counting on it to prevent a ‘constitutional’ election from happening anytime soon.

A child of the LPA

Mishri and his rump from the former General National Congress (GNC) who make up the HSC were a political creation in the 2015 Libyan Skhirat Political Agreement (LPA). They were never elected, and more importantly, they know that they will never be re-elected as a body and probably as individuals.

The surest way for individual members of the HSC and HSC as a body to lose their Libyan political significance (and the good salaries that go with it) is for Libya to hold elections. They know they are dinosaurs on their way.

Libyan politics have evolved, but not its intransigent politicians

Politically, Libya in 2021 is not Libya from 2014 to 2015. The borders have been blurred. The so-called “Islamist versus liberal” divide for one, has been distorted. Indeed, this framework for many Libyans still exists as the specter with which to judge politicians, but in reality Libyan politics has become multi-layered and more nuanced and complex than in 2015.

The political scene has been reformed on several occasions. Libya has moved on, but the GNC rump that is the HSC is still fighting yesterday. They and the House of Representatives are desperate to stay relevant. Peace does not serve them. The tension, and in particular through the “Islamist anti-Islamist” divide, justifies their existence. Their best ally is ironically Khalifa Hafter. They mutually justify existence.

However, the public is fed up with the ineffective dinosaur politicians who have dominated the scene since 2011. They want better governance and better services, which the current group has failed to deliver.

A change for the sake of change?

The general public sees elections as a clean slate mechanism to get rid of most of the current political elite and give a new group a chance. There is no guarantee that the next batch will be better – but the public has reached a stage where they want a change, even if it’s for the change. They see no hope with the HSC or the current parliament. The LPA is outdated and the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) appears to be stillborn.

Elections are the only way forward. The HSC and parliament fear their political end. And both can, perhaps even totally disappear as a result of the holding of elections! No wonder they are conspiring in the most fanciful way to obstruct the holding of elections!

About Wesley V. Finley

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