Libyans agree on constitutional referendum before elections
Libyan envoys at U.N.-backed talks in Egypt agreed on Wednesday to hold a constitutional referendum before planned elections in the war-torn country later this year, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.
Egypt “welcomes the agreement reached today between the Libyan parties in Hurghada in the framework of the constitutional process … and appreciates the efforts that led to the agreement to hold a referendum on the draft constitution in view of the Libyan elections scheduled for Dec. 24, 2021”, the ministry said in a statement.
New talks will be held in Egypt next month with a view to settle the “road map for the referendum and elections”, it added.
Oil-rich Libya has been torn apart by civil war since the NATO-backed uprising that ousted long-time dictator Muammar Gadhafi in 2011, with an array of militias filling the vacuum and civilian bodies struggling to impose their authority.
The U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) is based in the capital, while a House of Representatives which does not recognise the Tripoli administration is based in the east.
A fragile ceasefire between the two sides, agreed in Geneva last October, has largely held despite the threat of renewed violence.
In the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada, members of the commission drafting a future constitution met with delegations from the House of Representatives and the Tripoli-based High Council of State, which advises the GNA.
The meeting was held to “discuss the constitutional arrangements necessary for the holding of elections on Dec. 24,” according to the United Nations.
Libyans at U.N.-led talks in Tunisia in November agreed on the date for the elections.
Elected Libyan officials later called for a constitution to be approved before the polls are held, but did not challenge the election date.
A Moroccan diplomatic source said on Wednesday that further talks between members of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State would be held on Friday in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of the Moroccan capital Rabat.
The GNA said the negotiations would discuss appointments to the country’s key institutions – already the topic of discussion in Morocco in recent months – such as the electoral commission, the central bank and the anti-corruption commission.
Libyan envoys at separate U.N.-backed talks in Geneva voted on Tuesday to pass a mechanism to choose an interim executive to govern until the December elections, according to the United Nations, calling it a “significant step forward”.
(A version of this article was originally published by the Arab Weekly and reproduced by permission.)