Libyan local elections underline continued civil conflict and division

Libyan local elections underline continued civil conflict and division

Elections for 15 of Libya’s 100 or so local councils will be held today. While the mandate for Libya’s local

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Photo: Reuters

Elections for 15 of Libya’s 100 or so local councils will be held today.

While the mandate for Libya’s local governments ended last year, today’s elections occur at a peculiar moment. The country remains ravaged by conflict; fighting continues between two rival administrations based in Libya’s east and west.

Today’s elections are being supported and funded by the UN-backed government of Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli; it is unclear whether Khalifa Haftar’s rival forces will honour the results.

After last December’s national election was postponed due to ongoing instability, Libya is now slated to hold a vote by the end of 2019. Following a meeting in the UAE in February, Mr Serraj confirmed Haftar’s commitment to hold elections. However, because Mr Haftar controls much of Libya’s oil, there appears to be little motivation for him to honour that promise. The former general also leads the country’s most powerful military force, the Libyan National Army.

A UN-backed national reconciliation conference slated for April 14 will be a useful indicator of Libya’s future stability—a successful conference would set a clear timeframe for elections. If the talks break down, however, Haftar’s forces could continue expanding closer to Tripoli.

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