As everyone has now started to pay attention to the Libyan political scene with the elections to be conducted by mid-2018, many things still need to be modified, added and announced, including a new constitution and laws that regulate the political process.
However, many are having high hopes that their country will pass the current situation to witness a new and brighter one, including Former Libyan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Aref Ali Al-Nayed, who announced his intentions to run for the presidency as soon as the door is open.
During an interview with Egypt Today, Nayed talked about several things related to the Libyan political situation, on both the international and domestic levels. He discussed his own perspective for the elections, his country’s forging relations and interests, the Egyptian role in unifying the political and military parties, the former regime and the Muslim Brotherhood’s role and effect.
Nayed, who served as the Libyan ambassador to the UAE from June 2011 to October 2016, affirmed that he can’t find any way out politically for his country except through conducting the elections. However, he wondered about politicians’ seriousness in holding the elections. “Through their statements, they affirm that they are seconding the elections, but on the ground and when it comes to reality, I can’t really see clear signs. For instance, we still don’t know anything about the elections law, its exact timing or how to secure it,” he said.
“We have a real legitimacy issue in our country; we need to renew it and this won’t happen except through the elections,” Nayed affirmed. He preferred to conduct all the elections at the same time. “Maybe it would be better to organize the municipal, legislative and presidential elections in one round to rationalize expenditures and facilitate arrangements.”
He explained that the country’s security situation today is not worse than 2014. “Every government and military organization can secure the election process inside its influence area with the presence of national and international representatives.”
Nayed found it difficult to start writing a Libyan constitution before the elections, as the first draft has not been agreed upon by the Libyan parties. “The constitution needs to be consistent; meanwhile, the draft we have is not,” he remarked. He suggested making some amendments to regulate the elections.
Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS
Nayed praised Egypt’s role regarding the Libyan situation and unifying the army. “We thank Egypt for offering us a trusted and safe place that gathered our politicians and army members,” he said.
Egypt hosted several meetings for Libyan army representatives from the eastern and southern regions, along with Misurata. All of the political parties in Libya agreed that Egypt’s continuous efforts that aim to unify the army are deeply appreciated.
Talking about the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Libya, Nayed said that the MB’s distractive capabilities should not be underestimated. “However, history proved that Libya is not an appropriate environment for hosting them; so when the elections take place, I highly doubt that they will gain any popularity. We are a moderate country and I don’t think that they would have a chance,” he stated.
Regarding the relations that may connect the MB with ISIS, Nayed said that the Libyan people suffered a lot from terrorism and extremism. “More than 700 people were killed during our war with ISIS. No one will protect them or any groups they are affiliated with,” he affirmed.
Nayed affirmed that he never agreed with idea of eliminating former Libyan regime members from the political scene. “Excluding them collectively from the Libyan society is not fair. The excluding should be for some specific members and only according to the law,” he added.
The political relations with Turkey and Qatar were also discussed during the interview, especially with the Arab-Gulf diplomatic conflict within the region. Nayed assured that despite having good relations with Ankara and Doha in the past, the new political approach for their current governments would make him say that choosing to back and support the Arab quartet (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain) would be a better choice against any other party that supports terrorism.
In another interview with Egypt Today last January, head of the Electoral Commission in Libya, Emad al-Sayeh, revealed several details regarding the current situation that hangs between alarm and hope inside Libya. He gave several details about the anticipated elections, adding that they are waiting for the Elections Regulation Law, which would allow his commission to pursue its work. Until then, the commission was to update its database for eligible voters based on law article No. 8 for 2013.
“This procedure will save us time and effort after receiving the elections law. We need almost three to four months of preparations after receiving the law, so this step had to be taken earlier,” Sayeh said.
About 485,000 Libyan citizens have registered their names during the past months at the commission. This number, however, is considered to be very low, as the past number of voters registered at the commission was two million people out of 4.5 million eligible Libyan voters, according to Sayeh.
Sayeh expected huge participation from the Libyans in the upcoming elections. “We announced that we need almost 66 million Libyan dinars ($49 million) as a budget for the electoral process; however, all we have for now is only 1.5 million dinars,” he said.
Despite Nayed being the first to announce his intentions to officially run for the presidency, it was reported earlier that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan president, is considering running for presidency as well.
In statements to Egypt Today on December 17, Libyan Tribal Chief and spokesperson of the Gaddafi family, Basem al-Hashimi al-Soul, said that Saif al-Islam enjoys the support of major tribes in Libya, which would enable him to run for the upcoming presidential election in 2018.
“Saif al-Islam will run for the upcoming presidential election, which may take place in mid-2018,” Soul said.