Libya is too divided to hold elections and risks partition if it goes ahead with a vote without security guarantees and a national consensus on building a state, a former rebel prime minister said yesterday.
Mahmoud Jibril, who led the National Transitional Council during the uprising that toppled former President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power, said a United Nations-endorsed target of holding national polls by the end of the year was unrealistic.
“The country is still not ready. More unity is needed, more consensus is needed,” Jibril said in an interview from his base in Cairo. “To go for elections when the country is so divided, we are exposing the country to real partition.”
Jibril spoke a day after U.N. Libya envoy Ghassan Salame told the U.N. Security Council that he had given up trying to amend a stalled 2015 peace deal and was instead focusing on holding elections this year.
Salame is also promoting a series of meetings to try to foster political discussion and consensus, which Jibril said could potentially produce a national charter for reuniting the country and rebuilding a properly functioning state.
Jibril, 65, a U.S.-trained consultant, headed an economic reform body under Gaddafi from 2007 before siding with rebels in the 2011 uprising. He served as interim prime minister for about seven months, lobbying successfully for the NATO air campaign that provided the rebels with crucial support.
But he said the electoral success of his National Forces Alliance (NFA) was sabotaged by armed groups who have held the real power in Tripoli since the uprising, storming government buildings and abducting officials to enforce their will.
In 2012 the NFA won the most votes, though Jibril lost a parliamentary contest to become prime minister. In new elections two years later party lists were banned and the result of the vote was disputed, leading to rival parliaments and governments being set up in Tripoli and the east.