Libya's High Council of State approved on Friday, after months of deadlock, the amendment to Article 13 of the constitutional basis - a kind of interim constitution - which makes it possible to call presidential and legislative elections suspended sine die since the end of 2021.
This constitutional draft, approved a month earlier by the Tobruk-based parliament and published unilaterally in the official state gazette, sets the eligibility criteria for future presidential candidates, the prerogatives of the president and prime minister, as well as those of the legislature.
The High Council, which functions as a Senate and is based in Tripoli, had postponed the session to examine this amendment on three occasions. However, it has yet to set a precise timetable for the holding of the elections.
Faced with this deadlock, the UN envoy for Libya (UNSMIL), Abdoulaye Bathily, launched an initiative before the Security Council on Monday to resume electoral preparations through a high-level group of 40 personalities - including political figures, institutions and tribal leaders - in order to adopt a constitutional framework and a roadmap.
This proposal was described by the president of the High Council of State, Khaled El Michri, as "dangerous" and "undermining national sovereignty", while the parliament accused UNSMIL of partiality, considering that the chamber is the only legitimate body to take this decision.
In the face of the rivalry between these two institutions, Bathily is looking for a third way out of the impasse while involving leaders from outside those in positions of power, as his predecessor, the American Stéphanie Williams, did in 2020. "The political class continues to face a major crisis of legitimacy and most state institutions lost their authority in the eyes of Libyans years ago," he lamented.
Two warring executives are dividing power in the country, Fathi Bashaga, appointed a year ago by the eastern parliament and based in Sirte, and Abdulhamid Dbeibah, based in Tripoli and whose transitional mandate was meant to accompany the electoral process.