The head of Libya’s High Council of State, Khalid al-Mishri, told TRT World that the unilaterally passed election laws work only in favour of warlord Khalifa Haftar and pave the way for tyranny.
Just 40 days ahead of Libya’s long-awaited December 24 elections, recent developments in the country raise questions about fairness and reliability.
Most recently, Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah reiterated the need for a bi-partisan law to ensure fair and just elections. Moreover, citizens and politicians in different parts of the country have criticised the so-called laws - which were illegally enacted by Aguila-Saleh - for leading The House of Representatives (HoR) in eastern Libya to favour warlords like Haftar and his allies.
The so-called laws have also earned the ire of some HoR members who gathered in Tripoli to protest it along with others from the western Libya.
Tensions are rapidly increasing in this North-African country. Amid the strife, TRT World spoke exclusively with Khalid al-Mishri, head of Libya's High Council of State. Among other things, he stated the need for the Libyan government to draft fair and valid election laws, and he also recommended delaying the elections for at least three months.
TRT WORLD: When the December 24 elections were first announced, people were hopeful. Now we see there is a big question mark casting suspicions over the process. Following the recent so-called laws, which were unilaterally passed by HoR, warlord Khalifa Haftar has been permitted to run for Libya’s presidency. What would you like to say about it?
KHALID al MISHRI: Initially, almost everybody in Libya was hopeful, but following the so-called electoral laws unilaterally passed by Aguila Saleh, now nobody trusts in the fairness of upcoming elections. The laws being stipulated by Saleh are nonstatutory and it contradicts with international laws and UN Security Council decisions, but also belies the decisions taken during Geneva, Berlin I and Berlin II conferences.
These absurd laws concern people which have not been approved by the parliament, and negatively affect people’s hope about the upcoming elections. There are more than 2.8 million voters in Libya and only 100.000 have got their voting cards so far. Of course we want elections in Libya but we will not allow a parody to take place with illegal laws.
Under the current circumstances, I believe the overwhelming majority will not accept the results of such an election. What we want is elections which have been agreed by a consensus with solid and fair laws while they (re: warlord Haftar, France and Egypt) seek an election process specially designed for someone to win.
Egypt and France now want to label people who oppose the fake elections as obstacles against democracy in Libya, whereas they are the ones who try to have elections with illegal laws.
The current stance we’ve taken is the reflection of the majority in Libya. We are determined to keep this stance and oppose illegality until a mutually accepted consensus is provided.
The so-called laws imposed by Aguila Saleh have not been voted on or even presented to the parliament, which allowed Haftar to run for Libya’s presidency. These tailor-made laws are the summary of the current election process, which we oppose.
Normally, we know that when HoR wants to legislate a law, it should be accepted by Tripoli. But now France and Egypt want to legitimise it without considering what others want. What does it tell us?
KM: The main debate is not judiciary but military-based. The ones who failed in terms of military want to make Haftar victorious judicially. When it comes to this issue, France is only supported by Egypt. These two countries want to take Libya to the elections with the so-called laws illegally imposed by Aguila Saleh. Italy, Turkey and many other countries see that it is not possible to have fair elections with such laws.
These so-called election laws might worsen the situation and can either bring partition or another civil war.
France held the most recent conference on Libya a few days ago. Paris in recent years has even collaborated with Russia against its NATO allies, and it was comfortable with the Wagner Group until it faced a threat in Mali recently. What would you like to tell us about this French dilemma?
KM: France’s real problem is with Islam and Muslims. The enmity behind its foreign politics against Turkey stems from this fact and that’s why Paris has been supporting Haftar.
It is also France that provided warlord Haftar technological and military support, even giving him weapons which are not permitted by many other countries across the world. Now, Paris wants the world to regard paid mercenaries as equal to officially invited Turkish forces. Paris, in fact, doesn't want Libyans to get their rights in the Eastern Mediterranean where it concerns natural resources through the French Total Company. We’re aware of all these plots and Paris will never be able to achieve it. Turkey-Libya brotherhood will now allow it.
What would happen if Turkish forces leave Libya amid such a situation?
KM: Turkey must never leave Libya until Wagner and other illegal entities leave our country. Turkey has a legal basis to help protect Libya’s sovereignty, while others attempt to destroy it completely. When warlord Haftar, with the support of Wagner and other mercenaries, started attacking Tripoli and the UN-backed Government, the previous PM, Fayez al-Sarraj, asked many countries, including the US, Italy, Algeria and Turkey to help. Only Turkey responded to support and protect the internationally-recognised government of Libya.
Ankara’s support prevented Haftar from capturing Tripoli, and Turkey’s presence in our country is based on bilaterally signed legal agreements to train our army against war criminals and future threats.
Thus, the world must differentiate between Turkish soldiers who came here at our official request and those who came to our country illegally to terrorise it.
Some of the countries led by France, Russia and Egypt must understand that intruders and officially invited foreign forces are two different things. If we can dream of free and fair elections with solid legal basis, and if we are able to resist unlawful attempts to destroy December 24 elections, it’s because of Turkey’s legitimate existence.
If we had legitimate, bi-partisan electoral laws and fair elections, France and Egypt-backed figures like warlord Haftar would not even get 10 percent of the votes.