Libya conflict

Libya candidates say presidential election delay is inevitable

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A group of candidates in war-torn Libya’s presidential election said Monday that they expect the polls to be delayed, despite the lack of an official announcement to that effect.

Scheduled for Friday, the vote is meant to cap a United Nations-led peace process after a decade of conflict.

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But it has been beset by deep divisions over its legal basis, who may stand and court challenges against prominent candidates.

On Monday, 17 hopefuls issued a joint statement in which they implicitly acknowledged that a delay was inevitable.

The group urged the electoral commission to “reveal the reasons why there will be no election on the date set”, and called on it to “publish a final list of candidates.”

Multiple observers have predicted a delay, but just days ahead of the vote, there has been no official announcement.

Libya, torn apart by a decade of conflict since its 2011 revolution, has seen a year of relative calm since a landmark October 2020 ceasefire, and the UN has been pushing for elections as part of a multi-pronged peace effort.

But presidential bids by several divisive figures, a controversial electoral law and lack of agreement over the powers of the next government have posed a series of obstacles.

The candidacies of eastern military general Khalifa Haftar and Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of slain former ruler Muammar Gaddafi – both accused of war crimes – have sparked particular opposition from rival camps.

Meanwhile, in a country controlled by dozens of armed groups including thousands of foreign fighters, analysts warn that the ceasefire is increasingly fragile.

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