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

Tripoli-based govt’s decision to lift fuel subsidies sparked backlash, and latest UN-sponsored national dialogue initiative aimed at resolving political stalemate remained stalled.

Public debate revolved around financial and economic feuds. Tripoli-based PM Abdulhamid Dabaiba 10 Jan announced controversial plan to remove fuel subsidies, in likely attempt to curb smuggling of subsidised fuel. Move created uproar among constituencies and politicians who have ties to smuggling rackets, and eastern-based govt in following days called decision “null and void”. Amid opposition and concern that removal of subsidies without proper compensation plans could cause significant inflation and impact ordinary Libyans, Dabaiba 17 Jan said issue will be put to referendum. 

More controversies affected oil sector. National Oil Corporation (NOC) 7 Jan declared force majeure at Sharara Oil Field after protesters closed site in uproar over deteriorating economic conditions in southern region; NOC 21 Jan lifted force majeure after deal with protesters.

UN envoy initiative to resolve political stalemate found no traction. U.S. ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, in Jan visited capital Tripoli and eastern city of Benghazi to mobilise support for UN envoy Abdoulaye Bathily-sponsored meeting of Libya’s five main political stakeholders to settle “issues impeding progress toward elections”. Speaker of eastern-based House of Representatives (HoR), Aguila Saleh, 23 Jan met with Norland in Benghazi and confirmed rejection of Bathily’s invitation, insisting that first step toward unification should be appointment of new unity govt. Norland same day also met with Libyan National Army (LNA) leader Khalifa Haftar in Benghazi to discuss political stalemate. Following meetings with Norland, Dabaiba and head of Tripoli-based advisory body High Council of State, Mohamed Takala, around 25 Jan announced accepting Bathily’s invitation. Bathily also held series of meetings, including with Haftar 30 Jan and Saleh next day, who reiterated his side would not attend UN-brokered political dialogue unless govt appointed by east-based parliament was present, or both govts were excluded. Meanwhile, Presidency Council pushed separate initiative, National Reconciliation Conference, with preparatory committee meeting held 14 Jan in Zuwara city; conference would supposedly be held in Sirte city in April and include members of former Qadhafi regime. 

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In The News

13 wrz 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 sty 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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