Aguila Saleh Interview: Libyan Parliament Has Approved Election Law for Head of State – Al Marsad

In a recent interview with the Libya Al-Ghad Satellite channel, the Chairman of the Libyan House of Representatives (HoR), Chancellor Aguila Saleh, spoke at length on the election law, the 24 December elections, the removal of all foreign forces and mercenaries, the dismantling of militias, and the key political roadblocks facing the country. 

The extensive interview with Chancellor Aguila Saleh was aired on 27 August and conducted by the journalist Nabil al-Hajj for the Madar-al-Ghad talk show, who put on a tough set of questions to the head of the Libyan Parliament.

Chancellor Aguila Saleh said in the interview that the Libyan Parliament has approved the issuance of a law for the election of the Head of State and that it was now with the Parliament’s Legislative Committee who are drafting it “in linguistic and legal terms only.” He said it was expected to be issued in the coming days and will be promulgated in the Official Gazette.

Saleh stressed that there were  now “no legislative or legal obstacles to holding the Presidential and Legislative elections on time”, and warned that there was no solution to the Libyan issue “except by holding the simultaneous Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 24 December 2021.”

AlMarsad publishes below an English translation of the excerpts of the interview by Chancellor Aguila Saleh.

THE ELECTION LAW AND THE DECEMBER ELECTIONS

Interviewer: The Libyan people are looking forward to the upcoming elections scheduled for 24 December 24 to end the conflict, disputes and divisions in the country. Today, however, there are doubts about holding these elections as scheduled. Will there be elections or not?

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: Personally, I insist on holding the elections as scheduled. The Libyan House of Representatives has approved the issuance of a law for the election of the Head of State. The Election of the President Law is now with the Parliament’s Legislative Committee to draft it in linguistic and legal terms only. It is expected to be issued in the coming days and will be promulgated in the Official Gazette. This is a very important achievement for the country’s legislature. On the other hand, there is a demand to amend the law on the election of the House of Representatives, and this amendment could take place within the next two weeks. If this does not happen, we have a law in effect on the basis of which the current Parliament was elected. Therefore, this law is in place and has not been repealed. There are now no legislative or legal obstacles to holding the Presidential and Legislative elections on time. Certainly there is a particular faction that objects and puts some roadblocks in the way. This is based on narrow personal interests.

If you read the text of the law on the election of the President of the State, we have not excluded anyone. Everyone who meets the prescribed normal conditions, set by all countries of the world, has the right to run for the Presidency. Thus, there is no justification for any objection except for those individuals who believe that if the elections take place, they will disappear from the scene. In fact, this is normal. Any state employee has a fixed term of office and then he leaves the chair [post] for someone else; this is the peaceful transfer of power principle. I would like to affirm that there is no solution to the Libyan issue except by holding the simultaneous Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 24 December 2021. Hence, I say that the Libyans are now required to form a strong and robust bloc that bears its responsibility because they are the owners of sovereignty and have the inherent right to choose who governs the country and represents them, whether their President or their members of the Parliament.

Certainly, there is no way out of the crisis except through holding this upcoming elections. A President will be elected; a President for all Libyans, and his regional affiliation does not matter because he is a President for all Libyans. Only then will the conflict over legitimacy, division, and regional differences end, and he will be the elected Head of State and the recognized President at the national and international levels. At that, I think that the country’s condition will change for the better once this national entitlement is achieved.

Interviewer: You referred to the session of Parliament in which, as you have just told us, the law for the election of the Head of State was passed. However, there are members of the Parliament who said that the draft law related to elections that you referred to has not been approved or ratified, and that it will be voted on in the next session. Is this true?

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: Absolutely not. This law, which was actually passed, was discussed by paragraph and by article. And every MP in that session of the House of Representatives expressed his opinion on every paragraph and article of the draft law. Their opinion was polled about; and whether there were comments, remarks, or additions they would like to make, and then the vote was taken.

Interviewer: But you suspended the session, Mr. Chancellor, after some deputies clashed and hit with fists.

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: These issues happen in all parliaments. It had nothing to do with the Election Law. In fact, at the conclusion of the session, the law on electing the President was approved, and no one objected, especially after the conditions required for electing the President were all agreed upon.

Interviewer: It was agreed to elect the President. This means that the terms and the bill is still under consideration?

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: No, no, in the end, all the conditions laid down were approved, after the introduction of the amendments, and the law for the Election of the Head of State was approved unanimously. This law has been approved and we are awaiting its promulgation.

Interviewer: So why do some MPs, such as Jalal Al-Shuwaihdi, for example, say that the bill has not yet been approved and is still in deliberations?

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: Are these MPs whom you refer to from those who attended the session or from outside?

Interviewer: Yes, those who attended the session, like Jalal Al-Shuwaihdi, for example.

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: Mr. Jalal Al-Shuwaihdi is another story. Perhaps he is the only member of Parliament who objects to this law because Jalal Al-Shuwaihdi does not want this entitlement to be accomplished, neither through a vote, nor without a vote. This is a fact.

Interviewer: Why do you think so?

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: This particular MP receives instructions from a specific party that does not want to accomplish this entitlement.

THE ADVISORY STATE COUNCIL

Interviewer: Even if we overcome any disagreement that occurred or may occur within the Parliament regarding the draft Election Law, there is an objection from the State Council to what the latter considers to be the Parliament’s unilateral issuance of this law. They say that the Libyan Political Agreement provides for the consultation or agreement of the two Chambers: the House of Representatives and the State Council to issue this law.

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: This is not true. The competent authority to issue laws and promulgate them in written form in all countries is represented by parliaments. There is no other partner, under any name, who issues laws and legislations other than the country’s Legislative Council, which is the House of Representatives. Thus, the State Council is only an advisory council, and its legal name is the advisory High State Council, and it is not a legislative council at all. In fact, the State Council is the remnants of the defunct General National Congress (GNC) that came out of existence when the incumbent Parliament was elected in 2014.

The legal rule says that the defunct body cannot be reinstated, but out of the blue, the General National Congress illegitimately resurfaced under the guise of the State Council and continued to disrupt and obstruct the work the duly elected Libyan House of Representatives since 2014, refused to hand over power, and refused even to recognize the outcomes of the 2014 legislative elections. Is it reasonable that the opposition and arch-rival is the political advisor to the House of Representatives? How on earth can it be an advisor to the House of Representatives? This opponent of the House of Representatives is the State Council which is only an advisory council and not a legislature at all. Since the State Advisory Council is only an opponent in reality, it has never assisted the House of Representatives, in any form, to implement the national entitlements to the fullest. This advisory council is solely a process created to perpetuate the chaos in Libya and obstruct the work of the elected Libyan House of Representatives in carrying out its duties, entitlements, and required legislations. The final statement here is that the House of Representatives is the only legitimate authority in the country competent to issue legislation, and the evidence for this is that the recent statement of the Security Council stipulated explicitly that the Legislative Authority [in Libya] is the competent authority to issue laws related to elections.

Interviewer: But there are explicit articles within the text of the Skhirat Agreement that give the State Council some points in which to refer to some details with the House of Representatives. Are these articles not included in the Libyan Political Agreement?

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: Issuance of laws is the competence of the Legislative Authority.

Interviewer: But, Honorable Chancellor, the situation in Libya today is exceptional.

Chancellor Aguila Saleh: It is exceptional, but what was discussed and consulted with the advisory State Council was the issue of sovereign positions only. You may have heard that we met in Bouznika, Morocco, where the sovereign positions were evenly distributed over the three regions of Libya, and a mechanism was put in place for how to assign the heads of these bodies.

For our part, as the House of Representatives, we have already done that and dispatched correspondence in this regard to the State Council more than two or three months ago. We are still waiting, until now, for their response, like waiting for Godot. This is evidence that it is an obstructionist body that does not really want the country to emerge from its crisis. Also, as I said in exceptional circumstances, this argument is valid but first and foremost, the legal principle says necessities make prohibitions permissible. On the other hand, there is a legal jurisprudence rule that says that necessity is procedural when the homeland and the safety of the people are at risk, and in jeopardy, and when it is difficult to activate the legal and legislative rules that can suspend even the provisions of the constitution and laws. Libya’s interest requires going to the elections in any form, and by all means. Any obstruction to the election process, under any name, does not want the country to come out of its crisis.

We say to everyone: Look at the law on the election of the President. What are the objections? As I told you, no one is excluded, no one is marginalized. Whoever wants to run in the elections can do so, whether he is a supporter of the former regime, February, the [Muslim] Brotherhood, or others. Whoever wants to run and meets the stipulated conditions, let him nominate himself.

Interviewer: But before that if you really believed that the House of Representatives is the legislative authority with the original competence to pass laws and legislations like this, why did you earlier agree to negotiate with the State Council on some issues? You mentioned one of them, which is the topic of sovereign positions. You also sat with them in Hurghada, Egypt, regarding the constitutional process. Why do you refuse now when you accepted in the past?

Head of Parliament: Negotiation is one thing and political and national action is another. We did not include the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in the Constitutional Declaration. This is an evidence that from a constitutional and legal point of view there is no legal value whatsoever for any measures that had been taken by [Fayez] al-Sarraj Government of National Accord (GNA). You may remember that all the courts in Libya considered Sarraj’s decisions void because the LPA-emanating GNA had never been included in the Constitutional Declaration, but this dialogue, whether with opponents, non-opponents, and everyone else, is for the sake of Libya’s interest, and it does not mean that the House of Representatives waives its powers and competences.

Interviewer: But are you not worried that the State Council will obstruct the Election Law that will be issued by the House of Representatives in the coming days?

Head of Parliament: The will of the Libyan people is above everyone. The Libyan people want elections. They firmly adhere to holding the elections on its stipulated date. Casting their votes in the ballot box is a right and a duty, and I now address the Libyan people by saying that at this stage it is the duty of every Libyan to register his name in the electoral register, to participate in the elections, and to be even among those who secure the elections, because I assure everyone that the interest; the supreme interest of the Libyan nation, is to hold the elections on time without considering any other formalities or procedures.

Interviewer: But today there are those who say that the House of Representatives no longer derives its legitimacy from the street or from the will of the Libyan people; in other words, not from the 2014 elections’ outputs, but from the political agreement after the expiry of the legal period. Today, if the House of Representatives does not abide by the Libyan Political Agreement, it is as if it loses its legitimacy as well.

Head of Parliament: This is an incorrect statement that stands in contradiction with the law. The House of Representatives was elected in accordance with Law No. 10 of 2014, and was not elected even according to the Constitutional Declaration. This is a valid and enforceable law, and our opposing brothers in Western Libya should refer to the Constitutional Jurist, Professor al-Kouni Abouda, when he gave a lecture in this regard, and when he said that the House of Representatives derives its legitimacy from the law; the election law of the House of Representatives. Also, we cannot abolish the Parliament because it means a power vacuum in the country. How will the fate of the country be?

Interviewer: But the February Commission’s Proposals say that the term of Parliament is eighteen months. You have surpassed that long ago.

Head of Parliament: This is a Constitutional Declaration, and the House of Representatives has the right to amend the Constitutional Declaration.

Interviewer: Did you go back to the people to vote on this renewal of mandate?

Head of Parliament: No, amending the Constitutional Declaration is the competence of the House of Representatives. The document that says the term of the Parliament is eighteen months is the Constitutional Declaration, and the institution that has the powers to amend the Constitutional Declaration is the Parliament.

Interviewer: Today, a meeting took place between the Head of the advisory State Council Khaled al-Mishri with the UN Special Envoy Ján Kubiš, and al-Mishri told him that the State Council formed what al-Mishri described as a committee that has completed some laws that will be discussed first within the State Council and then presented to the House of Representatives. Does this imply that the State Council is more keen to abide by the principle of consultation and consensus in order to complete the upcoming entitlements than the House of Representatives?

Head of Parliament: Why did the State Council not respect the consensus that occurred in the Bouznika meetings and the assignment of sovereign and supervisory institutions. It never happened, and the State Council does not want to make any progress in this area for the sole reason that after the Presidential and Parliamentary elections there will be no body called the High State Council. There will be only an Executive Authority, a Legislature and a Judiciary in the country. This is the reality.

Interviewer: You indicated that the Parliament has already issued the election law, if we talk about the features of this law and what it contains?

Head of Parliament: Election law?

Interviewer: The election law that was passed by the Parliament?

Head of Parliament: You mean the election law of the Head of State.

Interviewer: Yes, the President’s Election Law. What does the President’s Election Law include? What do you say to the Libyans about this law? Because there are many Libyans who have not yet read the text of this law.

Head of Parliament: The Libyan citizen will know the law when it is published in the Official Gazette, the public information medium. This law will be promulgated in the Official Gazette, and any Libyan citizen can read it, and the Libyans also followed the live sessions of the House of Representatives that revolved around discussing the articles and paragraphs of the Election Law, and if you ask any Libyan who followed the sessions, he will tell you what happened, especially in the substantive articles.

POWERS OF THE ELECTED PRESIDENT

Interviewer: I ask you this question because there is a fear on the part of the Libyans that you will put in place a presidential election law that will produce for us a president with restricted powers, and the experience of Tunisia is the best example, did you take this point into account?

Head of Parliament: Yes, we know that we are in an exceptional stage, and we benefited from what happened in Tunisia when we embarked on this matter. We are in an exceptional stage and the President must have the powers so that a certain group or clique does not impede the President’s work. He will have sufficient powers to assume all his responsibilities as Head of State.

Interviewer: How? Can you give us an example?

Head of Parliament: The Head of State will have all the powers, for example, to appoint the Prime Minister and remove him from his post, to appoint the Head of Intelligence, assign Ambassadors abroad, and accredit foreign Diplomatic Corps and Ambassadors to Libya; I mean all the important institutions fall within the competences of the President of the State.

Interviewer: But there is talk of a two-Chamber Parliament; the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Head of State, and the Prime Minister. Why all these institutions?

Head of Parliament: There is no such approach at the time being. This could the case when there is a permanent Constitution in the country. Now there is one Chamber only which is the House of Representatives. The permanent Constitution is the document that determines the composition of the legislative branch; whether one or two Chambers, a House of Representatives and a Senate; this can exclusively be determined by a permanent Constitution. However, now there is one and sole Chamber which is the Libyan House of Representatives.

Interviewer: But what is your personal opinion regarding a semi-presidential or semi-parliamentary system of government that may be implemented in a draft constitution? What do you think about it and is it suitable in Libya?

Head of Parliament: The reason for delaying the draft constitution is that there are major and substantial differences over it among Libyans. I believe that the draft constitution will be rejected, which is one of the reasons for procrastination and time wasting. We are now going through another stage, which is the election of a President and a new Parliament. Since the constitution is the source of laws, as it is said, and includes legislations that organize society, it requires approval by a large majority, and a great consensus across all Libyan components, and therefore this requires time and the achievement of national reconciliation and rapprochement between all Libyan rivals. And, God willing, when the President is elected, he will be the President of all Libyans, and he will strive to achieve national reconciliation and establish a permanent Constitution for the country.

SAIF AL-ISLAM GADDAFI

Interviewer: There are leaks that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is making some arrangements to return to political work in Libya, and that he will run in the presidential elections. What is Parliament Speaker’s position on this development?

Head of Parliament: According to the law, I personally will not exclude any Libyan who meets the conditions, and no one will be prevented except by a court ruling. Only if the conditions required to run for Presidency are met, then he can nominate himself.

Interviewer: I mean, does Saif al-Islam have the right to run for the presidential elections according to the election law that will be issued by the Parliament?

Head of Parliament: If he meets the conditions regulating candidacy, he can run.

Interviewer: According to your first-hand knowledge of the conditions for electing the President of the State, are they applicable to Saif al-Islam?

Head of Parliament: The conditions are well known. I can sum them up to you. Among them, the candidate must be a Libyan of Libyan parents; must have reached the age of forty, and must not have been convicted by a final court ruling of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, and not be deprived of his civil rights, and must hold at least a university degree from one of the accredited universities, and that he submits a financial disclosure statement that includes his movable and immovable property for him, his wife and his minor children, and that he does not hold a foreign nationality on the day of candidacy. These are the conditions.

Interviewer: But there are those who object to Saif al-Islam’s candidacy under the pretext of the International Criminal Court (ICC) seizure memo. What is the merit of this objection?

Head of Parliament: We said that the candidate should not be convicted by a final court ruling. I mean, even in the case of a person who has been sentenced based on a non-final judgment rule, the House of Representatives has bypassed this matter, meaning that the final ruling of the court is the judgment that must be implemented.

Interviewer: But Saif al-Islam is also wanted by the Libyan judiciary, and perhaps even a death sentence was issued against him. What is Saif al-Islam’s status?

Head of Parliament: When he applies for candidacy, we will ask him to submit these documents for consideration; he must bring documents proving that he has not been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. He is required to submit documents as any other candidate; he is required to submit, for example, his academic degree certificate, his police record, his birth certificate, and all the relevant documents required for candidacy, like any other candidate for election.

Interviewer: I mean, can Saif al-Islam benefit from the General Amnesty Law that was issued in 2011?

Head of Parliament: Indeed, the competent official responsible for implementing the General Amnesty Law is the Public Prosecutor, who decides who meets the conditions of the General Amnesty Law, and who doesn’t.

Interviewer: But then, in November 2011, Saif al-Islam was released from custody, and even the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Brigade, which arrested him, carried out the release order.

Head of Parliament: All these matters are within the jurisdiction of the courts. I always really do not want to interfere in the affairs of the judiciary, neither with criticism nor with approval. This is a matter for the courts to decide. I cannot talk about it.

FOREIGN FORCES AND MERCENARIES

Interviewer: Let us now come to the issue of the foreign military presence in Libya. The Libyans are demanding today that all foreign forces, without exception, leave their country immediately. In your opinion, what are the reasons for delaying the implementation of their exit until now?

Head of Parliament: Indeed, we have always been insisting on our demands for the exit of foreign forces from our country, but it seems that the international community has not taken a clear and decisive position on the matter for these forces to leave Libya. We are demanding, and some countries are demanding, but so far the Turks in particular are still clinging, and they even said that the Turkish forces are not foreign forces in Libya. Unfortunately, this was said in the presence of some officials in the incumbent Executive Authority. But we will continue to demand, constantly and resolutely, the exit of these forces.

Interviewer: But when you say that the international community has not taken a decisive position to expel the foreign forces, what does Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh suggest to the international community or the Security Council to evict the foreign forces and implement this on the ground?

Head of Parliament: The Security Council must issue an unequivocally mandatory and explicit decision to all foreign forces to immediately exit the Libyan territory.

Interviewer: But these decisions were made.

Head of Parliament: No, there has not been a categorically conspicuous decision in this wording that I spoke of, or with a mandatory and specific timeframe for their exit that must be rigidly observed. The exit of those forces should be immediate and unphased, because if it is phased, eviction of foreign troops could last a year and a half or even two years. Notwithstanding, from my point of view, when a President is elected, he may be the one who will have the power and mandate to address these illegal agreements. The reason for the presence of these forces in Libya is Fayez al-Sarraj, who signed MOUs and agreements with Turkey, although he is not authorized to conclude such treaties because this competence is not within his stipulated mandate. We have always reiterated and affirmed that all treaties and agreements concluded, even by the next elected President, must be ratified by the House of Representatives, and the House of Representatives has a clear position on rejecting Sarraj’s agreement with Turkey, and considers it null and void, because when you talk to them [the Turks], they say we came to Libya with an agreement with the GNA or with the authority recognized by the international community. The President-elect will be recognized by the international community and will decide the exit of those forces.

Interviewer: But how do you expect the next President to accomplish a task that you were unable to carry out?

Head of Parliament: Because the argument they hold is based on the fact that the internationally-recognized government is the Sarraj government. Sarraj is out of the scene now, and when a Head of State is elected, he will be recognized internationally, regionally and at the national level, and the elected President will be entrusted with this matter.

Interviewer: So why wait for a President to be recognized in the future, when we now have a recognized Government of National Unity?

Head of Parliament: No, the Turks said these words in the presence of this Government [the GNU].

Interviewer: How do you understand the position of Abdul Hamid Dbaiba and his Government regarding the presence of the Turks on Libyan soil and the security agreement with Ankara?

Head of Parliament: The security and military agreements were concluded by Sarraj, not Dbaiba, but neither the Presidential Council nor the Government of National Unity insisted on the exit of these forces; this has been clearly manifested when the Turkish Minister of Defense, in the presence of Dbaiba, said that the Turkish forces in Libya “are not considered foreign forces.” Dbaiba could have objected to that statement and told him that these forces were foreign and that he demanded their departure.

Interviewer: How do you understand Dbaiba’s position in this context, and why did he not object to the Turkish official’s words?

Head of Parliament: I cannot be certain whether he is convinced of their presence [in Libya], and that he believes he must continue this work until his interim mandate ends, and that this is a political matter that the elected Head of State will deal with [after the elections].

Interviewer: But Dbaiba pledged before you in the Parliament session, that was held in the city of Sirte to grant the vote of confidence to his GNU cabinet, that he would expel the foreign forces from Libya.

Head of Parliament: Not everything that is said can be believed.

Interviewer: You didn’t believe him at the time?

Head of Parliament: Personally speaking, yes; because politicians usually say words and on many occasions, they decline from implementing their pledges. In fact, the presence of foreign forces in Libya cannot be accepted by anyone who upholds the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya. On the other hand, I think that in order to ensure the integrity of the upcoming elections, we will demand that they shall be conducted under the supervision of the United Nations, the League of Arab States and the African Union, and even the countries active in the Libyan file may also participate in the monitoring process.

Interviewer: You said that the so-called security and military agreement was concluded by the former al-Sarraj government. Today, I ask you legally, and before you were elected to the House of Representatives, you have always been in the judiciary domain, and also as a scholar of law, is the Dbaiba government authorized by law to abolish or even freeze the agreement with Ankara?

Head of Parliament: It can do that based on a robust and clear argument, which is that the legislative authority in Libya has not ratified this agreement. Even the Turks themselves took the approval of the Turkish Grand National Assembly or the Turkish Parliament before ratifying it, so how can we be asked to approve this treaty? The ratification of the Libyan House of Representatives is a strong and valid argument in the sense that this agreement was not enforceable according to the constitutions in all countries of the world. I think, as I mentioned to you, he [Dbaiba] will say this is a political matter left to the next elected President. Even the Presidential Council is not elected and came through a consensus process. Its stance may be less powerful. Therefore, we are counting on the upcoming elections and the emergence of an elected President and Parliament that is even stronger than the current Parliament.

Interviewer: Aren’t you putting a lot of responsibilities on the next President?

Head of Parliament: The President must assume his responsibilities. This is a legacy that the next President should take responsibility for. There is no solution to the Libyan crisis except through the new elected President, who bears responsibility, who launches a comprehensive national reconciliation initiative, and who unifies state institutions and the military institution.

Interviewer: It is said that you will run for the presidential elections. If you run and win, what will you do to address these files specifically?

Head of Parliament: If I run in the elections and win, I will present this matter to the Parliament, and if the Parliament endorses it, it will be an officially approved agreement. If the Parliament rejects it, I will not agree to it of course.

Interviewer: But there are armed groups and entities present on the ground, in the Western Region of Libya in particular, that reject the eviction of Turkish troops from the country. How will you deal with them as a President-elect?

Head of Parliament: The root cause behind the long conflict in Libya is the dispute over legitimacy. The President will be elected by all Libyans, and he will be the President of all Libyans, and I think everyone will listen to him.

Interviewer: Chancellor, this theoretical discourse is easy to reiterate, but in practice, we saw many agreements that might have been signed, welcomed, and applauded in front of the media cameras, while the reality on the ground was that there were armed groups toppling all of that.

Head of Parliament: Theory precedes action. You must have a certain thought and a certain direction. This is a matter of who is in power. Can he make critical decisions? Can he exercise his powers freely without lobby cliques? The Libyan people want elections because they want to get out of the crisis. The reason for these problems and the ongoing process of obstruction is not the desire of our Libyan brothers in the Western Region of the country for the Turkish forces to remain on Libyan soil. Rather, the problem lies in the dispute over legitimacy; the division of institutions; the absence of a unified pan-Libya Executive Authority that brings together all Libyan components under its leadership. I am certain that once a Head of State is elected, many chronic issues will end.

DISMANTLING THE MILITIAS

Interviewer: You issued the President’s Election Law. In the event of elections, what if there are armed groups, and they have already announced their position; whether with regard to the issue of the exit of the Turkish forces, and perhaps also in connection with the Election Law, especially the election of the President, they will object to that because the opinion of the political party present and dominant in Tripoli has not been taken.  If these groups oppose the Election Law, how will they be dealt with?

Head of Parliament: As for these groups, according to the executive regulations, in cooperation with the international community, they will be dismantled. The reason for these objections is fears of division in Libya. Regarding the issue of the President, I think that he will be elected by all Libyans and all Libyans will be satisfied, because these opposition groups will be assured that the President of the country will represent all Libyans because the instatement of the President is through an electoral process, not through a war, or through victory or conquest of faction over another; it will be accepted by all. He will be an elected President; everyone will listen to him, and he will be supported by the Libyan people and the international community. Those affiliated with the armed formations will be persuaded that now there is a President elected by the Libyan people and a new Parliament, and then the young people involved in militias and armed formations, who wish to work in civilian jobs, can be redistributed to educational and training institutions that qualify them to enter the labor market. Furthermore, those who wish to be drafted to the army or appointed in the security forces will be directed to military or security jobs. I believe that the next President, if he has the powers to make decisions, will address all of these dilemmas.

Interviewer: But convincing these groups of many things has failed over the past ten years, are you optimistic that they will be persuaded today?

Head of Parliament: The reason lies in the division the country is going through, and the inability of the political fronts to deal with these Libyans. But overall, I am optimistic.

SOVEREIGN POSITIONS

Interviewer: With regard to sovereign positions, how far has the matter reached?

Head of Parliament: In fact, he did not respond to us in this matter, and we communicated with the UNSMIL Head, Mr. Kubiš, and informed His Excellency that there is an obstruction from the State Council. The UN Envoy, Mr. Ján Kubiš, will visit the State Council in the coming days, and the House of Representatives will insist on naming heads of sovereign positions. There may be obstruction, but we will not remain idly by. We will spare no effort to achieve the demands of the Libyan people in holding the elections. The question of the other’s commitment to their pledges is another matter. An important point has to be noted:  if we do not issue election laws, we will bear a responsibility that may amount to accusing us of betraying the homeland. The Libyan people will accuse us of obstructing the elections and that parliamentarians want to stay in office. But we did our national duty and issued the election law.

The Libyan people firmly and wholeheartedly adhere to and defend the holding of the elections. Likewise, as a Parliament, we are strongly insisting on holding the elections and we are carrying out all the required legislative duties and accepting criticism, and any person who has an idea that benefits the country must contribute to it. The issue of laws is basically a human right, and here I ask, what did the LPDF Dialogue Committee offer? It did not provide anything useful for the country to get Libya out of the crisis. Disrupting this national entitlement under flimsy pretexts such as the pretext of competences is absolutely unacceptable because we are in an exceptionally difficult stage and the interest of the country and the safety of the Libyan people are above all considerations for us.

Interviewer: We conclude with the Libyan people. What do you say to them when Libya is at a critical and sensitive stage of its history? There is a widespread fear of resorting to arms again.

Head of Parliament: As I told you at the outset, the Libyans are required to form one strong national bloc that will assume its responsibilities; because the Libyan people are the owners of sovereignty and must adhere to their inherent right to hold the elections on time, and the Libyan people are required even to secure the elections; it is the only way out. If elections are not held, Libya will return to chaos and division, with drastically dire consequences that we do not wish to happen.

© ALMARSAD ENGLISH (2021)