The Government of National Unity: A timebomb for Libya?

The following comes in from Georgia Goddard who is about to join our team as an intern:

Almost exactly ten years after the fall of Gaddafi, with three failed governments under its belt, Libya has finally come together under the Government of National Unity (GNU). Following a ceasefire in October 2020, the UN Libyan Political Dialogue Forum chose seventy-five Libyan men and women from all sectors of society to elect a unified executive body, made up of one prime minister and a presidency council of three provincial representatives. The GNU cabinet was approved on the 10th March 2021 by an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives (HoR), Libya’s Parliament since 2014. Five days later, Prime Minister Dbeibah’s mandate officially began, replacing the Government of National Accord and the unrecognised Tobruk government, effectively led by General Khalifa Haftar.

Yet from the beginning Dbeibah has faced challenges. His supporters were accused of vote-buying during his election, with some of the seventy-five Libyans being offered hundreds of thousands for their support. His first visit to the East after being sworn in was forcibly postponed after pro-Haftar armed groups blocked his entrance to Benghazi – he still has not rearranged. The HoR has opposed Dbeibah’s budget plans whilst the Joint Military Committee 5+5, made up of ten military officials from the East and West, is struggling to bring about sustainable peace.

Yet the main problem for Dbeibah is the strict deadline for national elections, due on the 24th December 2021. With only eight months on the clock, he is expected to expel 20,000 foreign mercenaries, dismantle powerful armed militias, and improve the standard of living across Libya. This task is only made more difficult by Haftar, who has been excluded from the GNU and is unlikely to go quietly. It is doubtful that eight months will heal a decade of division: Dbeibah or the HoR may recognise this and delay elections, which will aggravate signatory parties, or worse, elections may be held prematurely, plunging the country back into chaos.

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