New Plans Against Direct Presidential Elections that Threaten Political Impasse and Renewed War – Al Marsad

Plans to obstruct the upcoming elections, either from those who reject it in general or who reject direct presidential elections, have not stopped since the UN Security Council Resolution. AlMarsad has obtained information on this issue from a number of members working on this file at the municipal councils and in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s (LPDF) committee. They reveal fears of new obstacles that may force the country into an impasse and renewed armed clashes. The UN Security Council seems to be anticipating renewed clashes which may explain why it approved the dispatch of international observers to monitor the ceasefire.

(Libya, 18 April 2021) – On April 9, 2021, the LPDF’s Legal Committee announced that it reached a comprehensive constitutional rule for the elections, except for one article, which was on the direct presidential elections. The article on the direct elections was rejected by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the committee such as Abdul Razzaq al-Aradi and Majida al-Fala and others such as the House of Representatives (HoR) member, Misbah Douma, who proposed during the last working days of the committee the idea of a constitutional referendum then withdrew his proposal.

Members of the HoR and High Council of State insist on putting the idea of constitutional referendum again as a pretext to disrupt the elections, because preparation for the referendum would take a long time and push the elections to the next year. Moreover, the law laid down by the HoR members for the referendum is designed to ensure that the draft is not passed.

The Muslim Brotherhood insists that the Presidential elections be indirect rather than direct, so that they can appoint a president of the country by buying votes from the next House of Representatives (HoR) members. Also, they count on the voters who will not be able to vote because their their choice of president cannot be elected, which gives the Brotherhood a greater chance to win seats in Parliament because they cannot win in another way.

The referendum law stipulates that Libya should be polled by three districts (Tripoli, Cyrenaica and Fazan). If 50% of the population of any of the three districts vote “No”, this constitution then would not pass. This effectively means that the result can be predicted in advance and the constitution will not pass because the majority of residents of the East and South reject it. There is, therefore, no point in following this process other than to waste time, effort and about 25 million LYD.


Emad al-Sayeh, the chairperson of the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), along with the Head of the Presidential Council Mohamed al-Menfi, are both currently victims of a conspiracy, because both insist on sticking to elections and the end of legitimacy on December 24, 2021.

Al-Sayeh has stressed on many occasions that “the constitutional referendum with the HoR’s law is nothing but a waste of time because the result is known—failure—and therefore there is no benefit sought from it.” Al-Sayeh’s position, therefore, made him an enemy in the eyes of those who are against elections and who supporter the referendum, including those who rejected him from the beginning. One HoR member openly accused al-Sayegh of treason and implementing foreign agendas.

What also made al-Sayeh an enemy for “political dinosaurs”, is his full support for holding the elections, and he did not hide his position during meetings, emphasing tha the only way to overcome the current crisis was by renewing legitimacy by letting Libyans elect their officials directly.

The opinion of al-Sayeh and al-Menfi was not welcomed by the members of the “forever councils”, who wish to continue the runaround of external dialogues and committees until the situation deteriorates into renewed war.


During last week further criticism against Emad al-Sayeh were made, this time by Adel Jumah, the Minister of State in the interim Government of National Unity (GNU). Jumah addressed a letter to al-Sayeh asking him to stop accepting any funds supporting the HNEC, due to a rumour against al-Sayed accusing him of accepting funds from the French Embassy.

Al-Sayeh denied the allegations and asserted that what the HNEC receives is limited and legitimate support from the United Nations and is public knowledge. He stressed that the HNEC is still short of its required budget to complete the electoral entitlement, amidst the ongoing blackmail that has been practiced against the commission for many years.

Therefore, although the HNEC is a unified entity and cannot be manipulated by quotas between legislative authorities, the HoR and the High Council of State insist replacing al-Sayeh under the excuse of being part of the process of unifying divided institutions and sovereign positions. It is likely that they would aim to replace a-Sayeh with someone who would obstruct elections and the implementation of the referendum or even profit from it—from a budget that would be allocated to a failed operation.


In the end, the plan of obstructing elections is based on three tracks. The first track is the demonization of al-Sayeh, to remove him, and then replace him with another personality that follows the approach of his commissioners, namely the HoR and the State Council.

The second, If approval is required for direct presidential elections, then a law would be issued will be issued for Libyans, that was and is still rejected by Al-Sayeh. The law would require the election of the head of state according to the system of the three constituencies instead of Libya electing its president as one constituency. This would effectively mean no result, and no president will be elected for the country.

The third track is to revive the referendum on the constitution for the reasons already mentioned, so that Libya is mired in a long sequence of delays.

Last Friday the UN Security Council unanimously adopted its resolution No. 2571 on the necessity of holding elections on time. This resolution was met with anger by several in the anti-election camp, some even arguing that the decision was a sovereign matter and had nothing to do with the Security Council, ignoring that it was an issue 7th Chapter.

Mohamed al-Menfi, however, was the first to welcome the UN Security Council resolution, and said it was important to hold on to elections as a basis for the roadmap that produced the Presidential Council and the Government of National Unity (GNU). Al-Menfi was praised for his move as the Libyan public is aware of its need to support HNEC to spare the country the scourge of blockages and wars because of a few Islamist figures sense their defeat in any upcoming elections, especially direct presidential ones.