A top Libyan electoral official said it would be impossible to hold a long-awaited presidential election scheduled for Friday, a delay that risks further destabilizing the oil-rich North African nation that has been beset by division and violence in the decade since the dictator Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was toppled and killed in a revolution.
“After reviewing the technical, judicial and security reports, we would like to inform you that it will be impossible to hold the elections on the date set by the elections law on the twenty-fourth of December 2021,” the president of the parliamentary election committee, Hadi Al-Sagheer, said in a statement on Wednesday.
For more than a year, Libya has been working toward the election, which was set for the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence. But in recent days, a delay appeared inevitable as questions swirled around the legitimacy of major candidates and the election’s legal basis.
The question now is not only when a vote might take place, but whether a postponed election would be any less brittle — and who would control Libya in the interim.
Nearly 100 candidates had declared they were running for president, a few of them among the most prominent in Libyan politics. More than a third of Libyans registered to vote, and most signaled their intentions to cast ballots.
Western leaders and United Nations officials had thrown their support behind the election, which they said represented the best hope of reunifying and pacifying a country still largely divided in two and dazed from nearly a decade of internecine fighting.