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International stakeholders seem determined to push for Libyan elections at the end of 2018, a stance echoed by verbal commitment of national politicians. However, the outlook of elections in Libya this year remains uncertain. Seven years have passed since the fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years. Elections could provide the positive changes this troubled country needs; at the same time, they also bear the potential to exacerbate the volatile security situation and political divisions in the country. Rightly so, Libyans demand that the transition phase needs to end, and current profiteers should have fewer advantages from the current divided system.
This feature, based on research and interviews by ICSR Research Fellow Inga Trauthig, delivers an introduction to the current political situation in Libya and identifies five distinct challenges that have the potential to compromise or disrupt planned elections.
Upon assessment of the current stage of election-planning, the feature provides three main conclusions:
- Endemic insecurity across Libya jeopardises national participation in the elections and the potential for election sabotage remains significant.
- The current lack of constitutional or electoral laws and questionable candidates both carry the potential to result in possible repercussions for stakeholders who have a vested interest in the continuation of the status quo. To ameliorate this, the elections require a robust legal framework, a credible dispute resolution forum, and candidates that display a commitment to democracy and aim to unify the people.
- Overbearing logistical difficulties in executing the elections and an unclear response to the dire economic situation further impede the potential positive influence the elections are supposed to have on the Libyan people.