The Guardian: Strong Criticism of UK Over its Statement that GNU Should Remain in Office Until Elections – Al Marsad

An article published in the UK’s Guardian by Patrick Wintour said the political crisis in Libya had taken an “increasingly international dimension” after the British Embassy in Libya was accused by Libyans of “defending corruption” and interfering in the internal affairs of the country.

The article said the Libyans had accusing the UK of defending corruption and interfering in the internal affairs of Libya by calling for the interim Government of National Unity (GNU) to remain in power until the postponed Presidential and Parliamentary elections are rescheduled.

Libyans have been vocal in their demand that the mandate of the interim GNU ended on 24 December 2021, as per the Roadmap. Libyans fear that the postponement of the elections could effectively allow the government of Abdul Hamid Dbaiba to continue playing its part in delaying elections and monopolising interim authority in the same way the previous interim government of Fayez al-Sarraj also did.

The article explained that the controversy began on 24 December, on the very day the elections were originally scheduled t have happened, when the UK in Libya Twitter account published a post saying it continued to recognise the interim government of national unity “as the authority tasked with leading Libya to elections and does not endorse the establishment of parallel governments or institutions”.

The tweet ignited enormous backlash backlash in Libya, from political groups, regional authorities, tribes, and civil society organisations. The foreign affairs committee of the House of Representatives (HoR), accused British ambassador, Caroline Hurndall, “of violating diplomatic norms and unwarranted interference.” The Parliamentary Committee said only the HoR “could decide on the role of the interim government.” The article also pointed out the several tribes called for Hurndall to be expelled.

Fathi Bashagha also weighed in on the issue, stressing that corruption was leading Libya to bankruptcy. He asked the British authorities: “Why does the British government apply the best anticorruption standards in its country, and want to protect corruption in Libya? Why is Britain defending the government and financial institutions in Libya?”

The report indicated that it was not clear that Britain was alone in such strong criticism, given that the joint statement issued by France, Germany, Italy and the United States also called on the national unity government to remain in power until the elections are quickly reorganized.

The report indicated that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the interim GNU, Najla al-Manqoush, “appeared to slow the drive to elections by saying national unity was a precondition” for elections. In a tweet posted on her official page, Mangoush said: “At this crucial moment in the history of Libya, we, Libyans and the international community, must realise that elections are a tool to achieve stability and not a specific goal.”

“The elections should be based on the principle of reconciliation, a constitutional basis, and the unification of institutions,” argued Mangoush. Talal al-Mihoub of the Parliamentary Defence and National Security Committee, accused Mangoush of remaining silent on the statement by the UK.

Al-Mihoub: Statement by the British Embassy is “Blatant Interference” in Libyan Affairs

The Guardian article also quoted Fadel Lamen who said: “The demonstrations in Benghazi and Tripoli on Saturday are a real testimony to the will of the people and their insistence to have their voices heard and their votes counted. They voted with their feet to make sure that nobody domestic or intentional can deprive them.”

The original title of the Guardian article focussed on the UK being accused of defending corruption, but later the title of the article seems to have been altered by the editors to prosaic as “political crisis”.

Libyan observers did not fail to notice the change of emphasis.