The way out of the Libyan crisis
For five years, we have witnessed the unrelenting clash between political wills in Libya and their failure to unite behind a set of national priorities. What is particularly worrisome is that these clashes have reached an unprecedented crisis level, threatening to collapse the Libyan state, to irremediably tear the country’s social fabric and to completely drain its wealth and reserves.
The political agreement, signed by the parties in the Libyan conflict on December 17th, 2015, could offer a viable solution despite the reservations of some parties due to lack of trust. Once appropriate modifications are introduced, Libya can push ahead with plans for national unity.
The following areas require urgent attention:
The Libyan parliament suffers from weak management. It is divided and continues to experience an identity crisis. Its committees have stopped working and it simply stalls and wastes time. There were no real legal sessions in which members could speak freely and objectively in line with internal bylaws.
Parliament has also failed to produce a balanced national discourse in which every political, regional or social sensitivity in Libya can be debated. Such a discourse is dearly needed to lay the foundations for the proper resolution of political violence and its components (transitional justice, reparation, reconciliation, rehabilitation, etc.) so that the situation in Libya can gradually evolve towards full stability.
The Presidential Council also suffers from internal blockage. Some members are not concerning themselves with the affairs of the state and are stalling the implementation of the National Unity Government programme. It is crucial that the security and economic measures — disarming militias, reinvigorating the economy, and full national reconciliation — of this programme be implemented.
Some members of the council are rejecting the principles of political participation and refuse to make concessions for the sake of the national good. They could have used their differences and energies to create a pluralistic approach to national issues aimed at the same objective, namely bringing security and stability to the country through the adoption of a unifying and permanent constitution and free presidential and legislative elections.
It is also important not to repeat the mistakes made by members of the previous National Council who tried to set up a Supreme Council of State while this important institution was still in gestation. The result was that one political orientation tried to dominate the advisory council, leading to extreme conflicts among the proposed members. Some of them tried to usurp the powers of the legislative branch and others stalled the transition process and extended the crisis through the remaking of the National Congress.
The state of political polarisation and divisiveness due to refusing to implement the political agreement gravely affected the country’s national economic and service institutions, which were emptied of their competent technical and managerial staff. Managerial appointments in those companies were dictated by political or power allegiance.
Because some parties in the crisis do not accept the concept of a national state and recognise only political or ideological allegiances, these parties refuse to cooperate with Libyan sides and are always seeking the support of their regional and international ideological patrons. Very often these international partners are embroiled in their own internal affairs and cannot offer suggestions useful to Libya. Confusing signals from these countries perpetuate the crisis in Libya.
The fervour with which some parties in the Libyan crisis continue to appeal to international partners will lead to the internationalisation of the conflict and will weaken the national reconciliation efforts. Foreign-backed militias will continue to do battle, leading to new polarisation and further weakening of the state. They will give birth to numerous tiny armed groups that will inevitably take advantage of the security void and will turn the lives of helpless citizens into a living hell.
To remedy the situation, we, all Libyans, must frankly discuss all issues and voice our fears and concerns. We must lay new bridges of trust without excluding anyone as long as he or she is committed to Libya’s territorial integrity and respects Libyan lives.
We should not go back to square one but must move forward with our project. We must all show our patriotism by accepting a single national reference and submitting to the principles of peaceful alternation on power, respecting the results of ballot boxes and of having an independent military institution and backing it in fighting terrorism.
All of this must be committed to a document rooted in the national agreement process that we can call the National Peace Pact.