Authorities overseeing war-torn Libya’s first presidential election have confirmed that holding it on Friday as scheduled is “impossible” and suggested a month-long delay.
The vote was intended to mark a fresh start for war-torn Libya, a year after a landmark ceasefire and more than a decade after its 2011 revolt that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
But speculation of a delay had been mounting for weeks, amid bitter disputes over the vote’s legal basis, the powers of the winner and the candidacies of several deeply divisive figures.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the parliamentary committee wrote to the assembly’s speaker saying that “after consulting the technical, judicial and security reports, we inform you of the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of December 24, 2021”.
It did not propose an alternative to Friday, a date set last year during UN-led peace talks in Tunis.
The election, intended to go hand-in-hand with parliamentary polls, was part of a United Nations-led peace process overshadowed by corruption allegations and the resignation of special envoy Jan Kubis just weeks before the elections.
The process was also mired by rancorous divisions over whether controversial figures should be allowed to stand.
Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, a son of Moamer, and eastern military chief Khalifa Haftar were both in the running despite accusations of war crimes.
Interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah’s candidacy also sparked controversy as he had pledged not to run as part of his original leadership bid.
“Every single faction in Libya has an issue with one of these three candidates,” said Claudia Gazzini, a Libya expert at the International Crisis Group.
“So they tried to stop these candidates from running using legal means, but failing that there seems to have been an informal agreement between some factions not to let the elections go forward,” she told AFP.