Libya’s House of Representatives based in the eastern city of Tobruk passed a no-confidence motion against the country’s unity government, just months ahead of the scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections in December. According to a government spokesperson, 89 out of the 113 MPs on Tuesday, September 21, voted in favor of withdrawing confidence from the government headed by interim prime minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah. The prime minister said that the interim administration will continue operating in caretaker capacity until the elections.
The vote comes amid growing tensions between the two main rival political factions in Libya – the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and the Libyan National Army-affiliated House of Representatives led by rebel general Khalifa Haftar. It is also a major blow to the years-long, ongoing peace negotiations being mediated by the United Nations aimed at securing long lasting peace and stability in the war-torn country.
The two rival factions have been at odds lately over several back and forth steps by each of them. In the beginning of this month, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, approved a new electoral law that includes a clause which allows military officials to stand in presidential elections if they have withdrawn from their military posts three months earlier. The law is being seen as one passed without due process. The Tripoli-based High Council of State (HCS), the upper house of the currently fractured Libyan parliament, said that it was passed “without a legal vote or consensus.”
The law is also being viewed as favorable to general Haftar as it clears the way for him to stand as a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. As a result, the HCS has demanded that the elections be postponed by a year. An HCS spokesperson in a statement said, “The HCS rejects the no-confidence measure against the national unity government,” adding that it violates the agreement signed between the Libyan factions in Morocco in 2015.
Libya has been engulfed in a bloody civil war since 2011 when an illegal NATO-led intervention overthrew long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The vacuum created as a result led to a rise in extremism and terrorism in the country in the subsequent years, causing massive loss of life and damage to Libya’s infrastructure. Infighting between the various political and tribal factions over power and territory ultimately ended up starting a civil war in 2014, which further pushed the country towards instability, chaos and violence. Several foreign powers such as Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Egypt have taken sides in the conflict and supported the Libyan factions militarily and financially.
After years of violence and war, UN-led peace talks, called the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), over the last years and hosted in several countries managed to broker a fragile peace agreement, which included a framework for bringing the country back to peace and stability with the formation of an interim unity government, mutual ceasefire, and presidential and parliamentary elections in the near future.