In early 2021, Libyan politicians agreed on terms for a national unity government bringing together what had been two administrations in Tripoli and Tobruk. The accord was another step toward lasting stability following the October 2020 ceasefire between the two rival militaries. Unifying national institutions is taking time, however, and several possible pitfalls lie ahead. Through research and advocacy, Crisis Group aims to keep the national unity agreement intact and the various associated processes on track, encouraging dialogue among Libyans and vigorous engagement on the part of the UN and external powers with influence in the country.

CrisisWatch Libya

Unchanged Situation

Parliament passed election laws, but major obstacles to holding votes remained; deadly clashes erupted between rival forces in eastern city of Benghazi and western city of Gharyan.

Election laws continued to spark controversy. Eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR) early Oct approved revised versions of presidential and parliamentary election laws and referred them to High Electoral Commission for implementation. Mohamed Tekala, new head of rival Tripoli-based High State Council (HSC), in following days rejected laws and scrapped cooperation with HoR; some HSC members contended that move did not reflect HSC’s stance, but just that of Tekala-aligned members. In briefing to UN Security Council, UN Special Representative for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily 16 Oct welcomed “some progress” in electoral process, but noted most politically contentious issues remained unresolved, with mandatory second round of presidential election and linkage between presidential and parliamentary elections putting electoral process at “high risk of disruption”; Bathily also noted negotiations between rival authorities required to form new govt ahead of elections remain elusive.

Rival forces engaged in deadly clashes. Former Tripoli-based Defence Minister al-Mahdi al-Barghathi early Oct travelled to his home city of Benghazi, allegedly alongside 40 of his followers. Claiming that Barghathi’s return had not been pre-approved and could be first step in plot to mobilise anti-Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar forces in Benghazi, forces aligned with Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) 6 Oct attempted to arrest him in Salmani district, sparking firefight that allegedly left at least 17 people dead, including one of Barghathi’s sons; LNA also cut off all communication in Benghazi for over a week. Meanwhile, clashes 29 Oct erupted in western city of Gharyan between Tripoli-based govt-affiliated militia and forces loyal to militia leader Adel Daab (who was expelled from Gharyan in 2019 by forces affiliated to former Tripoli-based govt after he handed control of city to Haftar’s forces); local sources reported eight people killed and 27 injured.

In other important developments. After flooding in Sept devastated eastern city of Derna, anger continued to simmer among locals who blame disaster on poor governance. Total death toll still uncertain: local authorities confirmed retrieving over 4,000 bodies, but number of missing is unclear.

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In The News

13 Sep 2023
[The] disaster that has hit Derna has really brought together the country, the people [of Libya], most importantly. The Washington Post

Claudia Gazzini

Senior Analyst, Libya
12 Jan 2023
There is a need for the UN envoy to play a more proactive role in coordinating international positions and putting pressure on Libyan actors to move the situation forward... Atalayar

Riccardo Fabiani

Project Director, North Africa

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Claudia Gazzini

Senior Analyst, Libya
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