The Latest UN Plan in Libya and the “Big Five”

The Latest UN Plan in Libya and the “Big Five”

In an unprecedented development in the Libyan political process over recent years, none of the eight UN envoys, nor the countries involved in Libyan political affairs, have managed to contain the crisis within specific parties. However, the recent plan by the UN envoy to Libya, Abdullah Batelli, has raised eyebrows. It has been met with skepticism by many Libyan internal parties, regarding its exclusivity, realism, implementation, commitment, and the practical feasibility of this political dialogue in achieving consensus to overcome the obstacles and differences facing the electoral process, the very goal for which this plan was proposed.

Defining the ‘Big Five’

The Libyan crisis has seen several terms evolve since the first political dialogue, starting with the ‘Skhirat Dialogue’ and then the ‘Skhirat Agreement’ in 2015, followed by the ‘Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’ in Tunis and Geneva in 2020, and most recently the term ‘Big Five’ towards the end of 2023 and into 2024.

Each term has its significance and subsequent outcomes. The earlier terms generally revolved around comprehensiveness within a narrow scope, unlike the latest term, which specifies and limits to specific names without exceeding them. The UN mission in Libya referred to the ‘Big Five’ as: the President of the Presidential Council, the President of the Government of National Unity, the President of the High Council of State, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the entity known as the ‘General Command’ in the east of the country.

This implies that these parties are the main actors in the crisis and that addressing their differences is essential for holding the long-postponed presidential and parliamentary elections. It also suggests the need for a consensus law enabling a comprehensive electoral process that would break the political deadlock and end division and conflict.

Conversely, the mission did not address the military and security component in the west of the country, nor its role in the power dynamics and political influence, an aspect crucial to any realistic and tangible political or electoral agreement.

UN Support, Conditions, and Internal Rejection

The diplomatic missions in Libya, including those from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany, quickly expressed their ‘warm welcome’ to the latest UN initiative. This sentiment was echoed in the Security Council meeting on December 18, 2023, with representatives of the five major countries showing strong support. The American and British diplomatic activities notably intensified in support of this initiative, aiming to reconcile the differing views of the involved parties.

However, despite this UN backing, the initiative has not progressed, even two months after its announcement. The UN envoy to Libya reported to the Security Council that one of the leaders set conditions for participation. The House of Representatives in Tobruk demanded a new government formation and rejected the participation of the Government of National Unity. In response, the latter rejected these conditions and urged for proposals to resolve them inclusively, but without offering any practical and timely proposals to support this direction.

The House of Representatives in eastern Libya also expressed its refusal to participate in any dialogue or political agreement that it perceives as disrespecting the Libyan will, the legitimacy of elected institutions, and the executive institutions emerging from them. It criticized the repetition of past ineffective approaches in resolving the Libyan crisis.

Additionally, the limitation of solutions to five parties has sparked outrage among members of the State Council and the House of Representatives in the southern region. They rejected Batelli’s initiative due to the lack of representation for Fezzan.

Is the New Initiative Geared Towards Organizing Elections?

Amidst this back-and-forth and varied acceptance levels, many observers expected the ‘Big Five’ plan to primarily focus on electoral laws, attempting to forge consensus among the mentioned parties to form a new government. This approach aims to end the state of division and political stalemate while paving the way for electoral processes and addressing the issues identified by the ‘6 + 6’ joint committee of the House of Representatives and the State. However, current electoral laws are deemed insufficient for achieving presidential and legislative elections, necessitating a ‘political agreement between the Libyan parties,’ as per the UN plan.

This situation might prompt the mission to adjust its approach, broadening its scope beyond specific parties to include other influential political entities in the Libyan political scene.

East and West: A State of Astonishment and Annoyance

There is widespread frustration among politicians in the east, west, and south of Libya regarding this plan, particularly due to its restrictive nature and focus on specific members. Many believe that the crisis, rooted in division and stalemate, cannot be resolved by those who were part of the problem and confined only to them.

This approach risks establishing a permanent political class in Libya, dominating the internal scene and interacting regionally and internationally, potentially exacerbating the political deadlock. This class, viewed as a major cause of the political stalemate, seems more focused on retaining power than resolving the crisis.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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