“Libyans must choose their legitimate representatives”. Conversation with Libya presidential candidate Suleiman Al-Bayoudi
By Vanessa Tomassini.
The political stalemate in Libya, reached following the appointment of Fathi Bashagha as prime minister and the refusal of the current Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Al-Dabaiba to hand over power, and the failure of consultations between the High Council of State (HCS) and the House of Representatives (HoR), it seems not destined to be solved in the short term without a new impetus of the electoral process. Only the Libyans, through suffrage, can put an end to the crisis of lack of legitimacy of the current bodies, never elected, expired or the result of ‘pre-packaged solutions’ from the outside. We therefore draw attention to the electoral moment in this interview with the candidate for Libya presidency, Suleiman Al-Bayoudi. Libyan writer and politician, leader of the Renewal Party, author of the book ‘Anger and Corruption, the Spring of Blood’, and of numerous articles published on Libyan and Arab websites, many of which have also been translated into English.
Good evening Mr. Bayoudi, Ramadan Mabrouk. Thank you for accepting this interview. What do you think of the current political situation in Libya?
“Ramadan Kareem and happy new year. It is not possible to find an accurate description of the current situation, as it is a mixture of stagnation, lack of objective formation, and unjustified stalemate, and the worst is the establishment of an institutional division and a return to the pre-Geneva agreement”.
How do you see the US proposal to use the Central Bank of Libya’s expenditures only for salaries and basic services?
“The Libyan reality and the political parties’ use of the resources of national wealth in favor of passing their agendas and projects may have imposed this framework and may be the possible way to push the parties to move towards holding presidential and parliamentary elections urgently. The steps that were taken before sitting to Geneva and Tunisia to approve a Libyan agreement which led to the appointment of the National Unity Government and a general framework for elections, before the track faltered.”
Do you believe this proposal goes in favor of Mr. Fathi Bashagha?
“Honestly, I do not think that Bashagha is able to present a different model, especially since he is far from Tripoli. The adventure of forming a government appears to be an absurd step that only reinforced the institutional division and did not bring any required development. All the parallel government’s promises seem absurd. I do not imagine that the issue of the flow of funds serves any party except the Libyans. When the resources are preserved, and far from the tampering of the de-facto authorities, it will inevitably lead to the imposition of a clear path, which is to move towards the elections as soon as possible.”
Why did Bashagha not enter Tripoli yet despite his statements?
“It is clear that Bashagha is unable to contain his opponents, and perhaps he did not communicate constructively with everyone and did not address many of the existing concerns. It doesn’t seem that his chances of entering Tripoli are possible, and the statements are a meal that can be presented to all parties locally and internationally, but the practical reality depends on the dynamics of interaction and the ability to dismantle offroad tracks.”
What is the balance of power in terms of armed groups between Bashagha and Dabaiba?
“I am not a military man and I do not have an accurate understanding of the movement of security formations. I think that it is a complex issue that cannot be understood from outside the circle where decisions are taken. Also, I do not like to resort to the language of weapons in resolving political crises. Perhaps the crisis is cross-arms in its reality and linked to the nature of the social and humanitarian movement. There are justifications for Bashagha refusal that can be overturned on Dabaiba, but the latter enjoys some structural support. Both of them came through a deal with the military force in the east of the country, but in the balance of political and social acceptance there is a clear disparity, which is reflected in the security forces in the west of the country and their positions.”
How does the political division affect the Libyan social and tribal fabric?
“The social structure in Libya is still coherent despite the bumps that hit it. Perhaps the experience of war and dialogue created a different culture; it is certain that all parties benefited from what happened. That is what emerges in the recent political division. The imaginary, but the size of the influence of adults seems marginal and shameful. What emerged, and can be clearly seen, is the exit of demonstrations and protests calling for elections in all of Libya, and here I am talking about the period before Dabaiba entered this demand. As civil and social forces, we are organizing demonstration across Libya to reject deals and further transitional stages.”
What is the role of the Presidency Council at the current stage?
“It appears like a lost child looking for his parents. I fear that it will discover to be an orphan and take a reckless step that will complicate matters. Instead of gaining the sympathy of the citizens, it turns into a scapegoat and is accused of being the one who assassinated the childhood.”
And what about the judiciary?
“I believe in the national judiciary and I appreciate the magnitude of challenges faced by the members of this authority. They must maintain their impartiality especially now that there are talks regarding trying to drag them into the political crisis, which is closer to wishes than reality. I reiterate the need to keep the judiciary in Libya a separate authority and far from political squabbles.”
Do you think that elections are still a solution?
“There is no other solution that can be appealed to. Fragile elections are much better than the perpetuation of tampering and corruption. Libyan women and men must choose their representatives and produce their legitimacy, because consolidating the status quo will lead to the disappearance of the state as a concept and system. The government is a body without a soul, its influence is limited, and the rebellion against it can be felt at the traffic lights, on the public road, in markets and in shops, not to mention the implementation of its decisions or dictates.”
Does Dabaiba really support the elections?
“I do not think that whoever violated his pledge and caused a stalemate for holding the elections on their previous date is honest in conducting them now. It is certain that he found in the elections Othman’s shirt, which he is raising in the face of his political opponents, but rather he is trying to promote parliamentary elections only to prevent any progress towards holding elections in Libya. Thus, he will accuse his opponents of thwarting it. He did not hesitate to establish political organizations that call for his options and present them as a third party as if he was not the owner of the project and who financed it from the money of the Libyans. Unfortunately, Dabaiba and other de facto authorities are fleeing forward and do not want the elections. This is the truth.”
How can the international community support the political process?
“Libya is part of the world and the international community supported it in 2011, after which the issue turned into multifaceted conflicts. It is necessary for the international community to be united in its stances towards Libya in order to be able to strengthen the political process. The European neighborhood is important to us and Italy in particular is linked to strategic interests with Libya, and positive engagement with the political forces in Libya is vital. The international community must practice penetration policies to build a new path aimed at holding elections and ending this state of time-cutting policy and the continuation of the de facto authorities.”
Given the Ukrainian crisis, are you worried about the presence of foreign mercenaries in Libya?
“The ceasefire agreement and the exchange of prisoners signed in Geneva must be implemented. I believe that the Joint Military Committee (JMC 5+5) is trying to do something. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is also doing its best to help, and in the end, all Libyans are against the presence of mercenaries in their country. I fear that the Ukrainian crisis will reflect and affect Libya somehow. Libya is the belly of the European crocodile, so its impact is direct. There must be a rational conception of the solution. Libya must be stable and secure and play an inspiring role in the stability of the Mediterranean basin”.