Libyans Hope for Democracy, Stability and Peace

New Government Stresses “War Won’t Be Repeated”
Outgoing head of the council Fayez Al-Sarraj (C), Mohammad Menfi (L), the new president of the Libyan Presidential Council, and Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh (R), the head of the National Unity Government attend the transition of power ceremony in Tripoli, Libya on March 16, 2021. (Getty)
Libya's new interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah speaks after being sworn in on March 15, 2021 in the eastern coastal city of Tobruk where Libya's new interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah is to be sworn in to lead the war-torn country's transition to elections in December, after years of chaos and division. (Getty)

Under the new government which obtained parliament’s confidence a few days ago, the Libyan people are longing for the permanent stability, peace and democracy that was lost since the ouster of strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011.

The Libyan House of Representatives gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to the new unity government last week with 132 votes out of the 133 lawmakers who were present and voting.

The new elected government led by Interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh vowed to restore stability and unify the ranks of Libyans as well as support the High National Election Commission and hold elections as planned next December.

The new move in Libya was seen by observers and officials as well as international organizations as a good step towards steadiness, security, fairness and peace.

Historic moment

After gaining the parliament’s confidence, Dbeibeh described the vote as a “historic moment” and vowed to end war in his country.

He told local media that the war in Libya will not be repeated and called on the legislature to pursue unity.

The PM stressed that he would work hard to back the Presidential Council and achieve transitional justice in the country.

Dbeibeh declared the government will prioritize improving services in the country, unifying the state’s institutions and fulfilling the goal of the transitional period by holding planned polls.

The new government is facing several challenges including providing good services, restoring the facilities affected by the war, increasing the oil production that makes up about 97% of the country’s total revenues, unifying Libyans and promoting the economy in all sectors.

Continuing oil output is necessary

“All parties in Libya agreed on the new government which was also supported internationally and regionally as capable of achieving its domestic missions which are topped by restoring stability nationwide and holding new elections,” Dr. Reem Abohussien, a specialist in African affairs, told Majalla.

“A few years ago, I published a study related to Libyan affairs that included some recommendations and primarily proposed following up the UN experiment in Mozambique. I called for withdrawing weapons from the armed groups in Libya and integrating them into a national inclusive army,” she stated.

Asked about the key step to be taken by the new government, Abohussien stressed the necessity of maintaining the production of oil to secure the inflow of major income to help the country continue spending on education, health sectors, and government salaries.

She demanded, at the same time, providing financial aid to the Libyan families to help them overcome the deteriorating economic conditions caused by the armed conflict and Covid-19.

As long as the local, regional and international parties have the desire to back the new government in the next phase, this will enable the cabinet to progress towards security, she affirmed.

She called for conducting a wider national reconciliation and implementing transitional justice similar to the steps taken in South Africa.

Libya is seeking to raise its oil production to 1.45 million barrels per day (b/d) by the end of the year, a level not achieved since 2012.

"In September we produced 700,000 b/d, today we are producing more than 1.3mn b/d, and our target is to increase production by the end of this year to 1.45mn b/d … provided that two variables remain fixed—an adequate budget and sufficient security," Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in an interview with Bloomberg TV last week.

“Our projection for two years from now is to produce 1.6mn b/d and, within 3-4 years from now to produce 2.1mn b/d," he said.

Advanced step towards reconciliation

Some diplomats consider what has recently happened in Libya as a key step.

“I see this as an advanced step towards an actual peace and reconciliation in Libya,” Egypt’s former ambassador to Qatar and former Assistant Foreign Minister Mohamed Morsi told Majalla.

“It is the first actual chance to pave the way for the unification and rebuilding of the Libyan State, especially if the international partners pledge their commitment regarding the withdrawal of armed groups and militias from the Libyan territories,” he argued.

Undoubtedly, this will be favorable to the neighboring countries in terms of combating cross-border terrorism, increasing trade and investment, as well as taking part in the reconstruction in Libya, the ambassador noted.

After the Libyan parliament voted its confidence in the new government, many countries and organizations all over the world welcomed it and commented that this step that was a key move on the way to democracy and stability as well as to the unification of Libyans.

Egypt’s presidency announced this week its full support to the new Libyan government.

In a telephone call with Dbeibeh, Egypt’s President Al-Sisi congratulated him on the parliament's vote of confidence, saying it was a "historic step” on the way to settling the Libyan crisis.

Al-Sisi affirmed his country's readiness to provide its experience in fields that will contribute to achieving political stability and to implementing development projects in Libya, according to an Egyptian presidential statement.

Moreover, Al-Sisi reiterated his trust in Dbeibeh's potential to run the current transitional phase and to achieve reconciliation among Libyans as well as unification of Libya's institutions, in preparation for national elections next December.

Commenting on the call with Al-Sisi, Dbeibeh voiced his optimism about his future relations with Egypt.

On Twitter, Dbeibeh wrote: “We are buoyant about a better future and strong relations as they should be between the two countries – Egypt and Libya.”

This clearly mirrors Egypt’s positive response to the new authority in Libya and its willingness to promote cooperation with Dbeibeh and his government in the future, according to political analysts. Stability in Libya will positively benefit Egypt and all neighboring countries.

Respecting sovereignty

Furthermore, head of Libya’s new Presidential Council Mohamed al-Menfi vowed to work with the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC) so as to unite the military forces across the country.

Al-Menfi proposed working on unifying the military institution on a professional basis and with a national ideology.

In a televised speech, he prioritized national reconciliation and turning a new chapter to move towards peace and build a democratic state that maintains the rights, freedoms and dignity of humans as well as enforces the law. 

He said he looks forward to founding foreign ties based on mutual interests and partnership, respecting sovereignty as well as avoiding intervention in domestic affairs.

UN praise of parliament vote

On its Twitter account, The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said “Libya has now a genuine opportunity to move forward towards, unity, stability, prosperity, reconciliation and to restore fully its sovereignty”.

“UNSMIL congratulates the Libyan people on the approval of a new unified government and applauds the House of Representatives, its leadership and its members for coming together on this historic day and for upholding the interests of their country & people,” it added.

The Mission also commends the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum for their patriotic efforts that led to this landmark moment in the history of Libya, as well as all parties who supported this process including the 5+5 JMC and elders and notables of Sirte and all of Libya, it noted.

However, some Libyans criticized the formation of the new government, saying it was based on some tribal quotas.

They are afraid that the new government will not be able to impose its will and power on all territories across Libya due to these quotas. But many Libyans, representing several parties, are at the same time optimistic about the new government and its plans after it obtained the parliament confidence vote.