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Added confusion: Following the Withdrawal of Confidence from Dbeibeh’s government

There are many Libyan political crises at the current stage, while the political transition process is approaching the peak of the last months to reach the main entitlement of the roadmap for holding elections on 24 December, which doubles the concerns about the smooth implementation of this entitlement and in a stable political atmosphere. 

The crisis of Parliament not approving the general budget submitted by the National Unity Government has not ended yet, until a larger crisis has been made between them represented in Parliament’s decision to withdraw confidence from the government. While the current indicators among the various parties reflect a political escalation, and there is a discrepancy in the scenarios among observers regarding the repercussions of this escalation on the political process, among a group who believes that the matter is related to the government whose decision reduces the margin of its movement, the parties keen to contest the elections will not engage in the escalation, which will reduce the impact of this step on the electoral process, another group believes that the Libyan scene is widely full of surprises. Therefore, this path may be a re-production of the differences and divisions witnessed by the previous transitional stages. 

Reactions

Domestically, the most prominent reactions came from the Prime Minister Abdel-Hamid Dbeibeh, who announced his rejection of the decision, and went up in the direction of hinting not to deal with Parliament in the next stage, and not to accept its legislation or decisions; Rather, he challenged the forces that created the decision, considering that they were seeking to destroy the nation. He also called for a mass mobilization on 24 September. It is a symbolic step which aims to hint that it will derive legitimacy through the street, not the parliament, that withdrew confidence from him. As for the President of the Presidential Council, he did not publicly criticize the council’s decision, but at the same time he showed solidarity with the government, as he listed the achievements of the unity government in a meeting with the foreign ministers of the United States and a number of European countries in a meeting regarding Libya on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. It is a diplomatic policy that is consistent with the nature of the next speaker of the Council with the Foreign Ministry. The Supreme Council of State also entered the line of escalation by declaring the legal invalidity of the decision, which is also the context expected of it in light of the state of mutual tension between the two councils since a period dating back to before the current transitional phase. Which exacerbated the escalation, during which the State Council’s desire to participate in not enacting legislation, which the Parliament rejects and practically bypassed by issuing the election law and sending it to the High Electoral Commission. While many political figures, especially those affiliated with the political Islam movement, demanded the reactivation of the Supreme Court to challenge the legislation issued by the Parliament. However, externally, it seems that there are also hints of criticism of the decision. During the “exile” meeting with foreign ministers, statements were issued by the foreign ministers of the United States, France, Italy and Germany stressing the legality of the government and it is of course, an affirmation of the international administration’s desire to complete the political process without side crises affecting it, especially on the part of the main forces participating in the Berlin process (which constitutes one of the references to the Libyan political transition process), it is the same line followed by the United Nations Mission in Libya, which published a strong worded statement in which it indicated its objection to the decision, and also criticized Parliament’s position by suggesting that it and the Libyan parties in general should have devote themselves in order to complete the rest of the roadmap procedures, and looking forward to the presidential and parliamentary elections. This is the reaction rejected by the Speaker of Parliament, who considered it an interference in internal affairs.

Possible complications

It seems that the political significance of Parliament’s decision practically is to cut off the road early on for the government to prolong the transition process, and to push all political parties to adhere to the time limit, which is linked to more than one indicator, including, for example, the speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Najla Al-Manqoush. During her participation in the Neighboring Countries Mechanism Conference in Algeria in early September 2021, she stated that there are fears that the electoral elections will not be completed on time, it is the most prominent government statement in this context. The other indicator is that Parliament completed the election law, and it was passed to the High Electoral Commission and the UN mission immediately prior to this step, and thus it completed all the required legislation that could be accomplished with regard to this entitlement, and prevented the Council of State from obstructing this promulgation. There is another possible step that is currently being talked about, which is suspending the work of Parliament, as deputies in Parliament confirmed that the President will enter a three-month vacation, his last session was the session of issuing a decision to withdraw confidence, and therefore he seeks to cut off the debate in Parliament once again on this step. The implicit message of all these moves is to push everyone to devote themselves to the electoral process. But on the other hand it does not seem that many other forces will easily surrender to this trend. The mass mobilization step that Dbeibeh resorted to will increase the complexities of the confused political scene in general. It will also reproduce a new version of the political dispute between Parliament and the government, as was the case in the previous transitional stages, especially during the era of the Government of National Accord, with the exception that the Government of National Unity obtained the approval of Parliament and then a vote of confidence was raised in it after six months. While the consensus was not approved by the main Parliament, but in both cases the outcome remains the same, which is that the institutions will work in separately from each other, and the parties will exchange appeals against the illegality of the decisions issued by any of them. It is not believed that Dbeibeh will abide by the limits of the role of a caretaker government, and the parliament has not granted the decisions or agreements that it will conclude, especially with foreign countries, the required legal legitimacy, especially in the event of thesuspension of the session, if it takes place.

Escalation limits

The possibility of the situation getting out of control among the poles of the political process is increasing. The Speaker of Parliament considered the Prime Minister’s tendency to mobilize the masses as “incitement.” Many local reports also revealed that there is a tendency to exploit the demonstrations, not only to criticize the Parliament’s stance towards the government. Rather, to call for its downfall, but at the same time, many observers believe that despite the development of this crisis, it will remain within the limits of political escalation, and that the scene will not slide into armed escalation again, as happened in the previous transitional phase during the era of the Government of National Accord headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, by looking at the that the forces that possess weapons have not yet directly participated in the battle between Parliament on the one hand and the government and the State Council on the other. In addition to the Prime Minister’s assertion that he does not seek to be a party to a battle of this kind. But in reality, and according to the Libyan experience that has accumulated over the past decade, it can be asserted that there are no guarantees that the current situation will remain as it is, and therefore everyone is in anticipation of upcoming and sudden developments, but most likely the scenario of armed escalation will remain postponed after the elections, which will be as the real test of the extent to which the parties accept the frameworks of the political process, the parties that reject the electoral process will exploit the current turmoil in parliamentary procedures to push for an appeal against the election results. 

Finally, it can be said that reaching the stage of political stability in the Libyan situation has become threatened, especially since the Libyan political institutions are still operating within the framework of political calculations and the interests of the competing and disparate parties to a large extent, but the level of instability will depend on developments on the confused scene.

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