African Union will lead mediation amid fears of increased foreign interference

Libya: reconciliation first, then elections

photo_camera AFP/GREGORIO BORGIA - Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeiba

The end of this month marks the one-year anniversary of the deadline by which Abdul Hamid Dbeibé, Prime Minister of Libya's Government of National Unity, was due to step down. However, not only has he not gone back on his word by staying in power, but he is also concluding agreements with Turkey that, according to observers, could be aimed at further extending his leadership in Libya. In this context, the African Union (AU) has decided to step forward to lead reconciliation and try to unblock the situation that prevents Tripoli from carrying out a democratic process.
While the United Nations has been working for some time to hold elections to choose a new government, the AU believes that, before going to the polls, there must be reconciliation between the parties. The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, has declared that they have the support of the international community and that "there is a new momentum for a political process in Libya that includes several stages". The main thing is that the Union considers that any choice made in a hypothetical election would be doomed to failure if it is made without prior mediation to bring the positions closer together.


 The concern within the AU is that the results would not be respected by the defeated party. For this reason, Faki himself believes that "the national reconciliation stage is the basis". The good news is that there are already reports that there is a willingness to hold a national reconciliation conference under the supervision of the African Union and the United Nations. Among the objectives of such a meeting would be to set aside issues from the past, starting with the release of political prisoners.
Informants told The Arab Weekly that preparations for a preliminary meeting for the conference are already underway. The idea for this conference is that it could take place in the second half of January 2023. In addition to the aforementioned intention to begin with the release of political prisoners, progress is expected to be made in the dismantling of militias, the withdrawal of weapons and, most importantly, the unification of the military establishment throughout the country, for which all Libyan political and social parties will be involved.


However, there is one factor that clashes with the AU's intentions: the figure of Prime Minister Dbeibé. This is not because of his presence at the head of the National Unity Government, which should have ended a year ago, but because of the moves that are bringing Tripoli closer to Ankara. In just a few months, Libya and Turkey have signed several memoranda that strengthen the Ottoman presence in Libya. The latest of these, ratified barely a month ago, is part of the 'Protocol on Flight Training between the Republic of Turkey and the Government of National Unity of Libya'.
It joins the one signed on 3 October in Istanbul on energy and security. Under this agreement - widely criticised within Libya's own borders - Libya and Turkey can jointly develop oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities within the maritime borders shared by the two countries. The unrest generated by these agreements is caused by the fact that they are being carried out unilaterally from Dbeibé's interim position. All of this comes together to make it increasingly important for the African Union to accelerate its efforts to reconcile the country with the ultimate goal of elections that Libya is demanding.

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