By Vanessa Tomassini.
Some still believe that changing government could represent a solution to the Libyan crisis. Among the options that the international community is evaluating, to overcome the political stalemate between Abdul Hamid Al-Dabaiba’s Government of National Unity and the parallel executive of Fathi Bashagha, there is also the formation of a third government to replace both rivals, so to end the doubts about legitimacy that only free and fair elections could guarantee. “We ask the Western world and all the countries involved in Libya to respect the desire of the Libyans and our decision to determine our destiny, supporting a consensual government that ends the conflict in Libya and the presence of two governments. Libya needs to be saved.” Says in this interview Mustafa Al-Majdoub, Libya Presidential candidate and creator of what he describes as the “Government of consensus between the three regions of Libya”.
Thank you, Mr. Majdoub, for accepting this interview. Your name is circulating as a potential next Prime Minister, please help me to introduce yourself.
“Before 2011 I worked in the Libyan government, and after 2011, I turned to political action because of the changes taking place in our country. I have always been attracted by politics, although it was a new experience for me. As a candidate for the presidential elections, today I am presenting a national project to form a consensual government between all regions, parties, social components and civil society groups in Libya.”
What are the priorities of your political program?
“Unfortunately, from 2011 to today, we have not been able to form an effective government and all the governments that have followed one another in Libya have not been successful. They did not receive sufficient support for a variety of reasons. Some of these governments have served special interests, personal purposes or international interests, rather than those of Libya. We have failed to build a State on solid foundations and institutions; we also did not hold the elections. All this in the light of the conflict, in Libya, and between the countries involved in the Libyan dossier. The presence of two parallel governments has increased conflicts and differences. So, we proceeded to form a consensual government that unites the Libyans and we present this idea to the world. Libya’s interest lies in deciding its own destiny to maintain stability. We seek to form a democratic government adequately on the basis of laws and with the participation of all parties to end the conflict and division, caused by the existence of two executives in conflict with each other, building a sovereign state and ending the political and military dispute.”
How do you intend to unite the military establishment, solving the problems of armed groups outside State control?
“The unification of the armed forces must go through several stages. We can see what has been done by the Joint Military Committee (JMC 5 + 5). Furthermore, we can benefit from international experiences that have managed to build a military institution, through bilateral agreements with the countries involved in the Libyan file, in particular the United States. There are also some armed formations that can be included in the military or security establishment, as they are disciplined in terms of internal composition and that have been able to adopt a professional approach in order to form an entity under the name of the Ministry of Defense.”
How are your relations with the head of Parliament, Aguila Saleh, and with General Khalifa Haftar?
“There is still no communication with them and we have not requested it. We are just trying to make this consensus work in the formation of the government and then all parties in Libya will be contacted. This political division has contributed to the deterioration of the situation, it has impacted the lives of citizens and the cost of living and all parties agree on that. Khalifa Haftar is a political and military reality in Libya and it would be a mistake to refuse dialogue and deal with him. We can collaborate to build political and military partnerships to achieve key objectives such as building the military institution, fighting terrorism, securing the eastern and southern borders and cooperating at this stage to provide the minimum necessary for the security of the next elections in Libya.”
What do you think of the work done by Prime Minister Dabaiba?
“The situation in Libya after the arrival of the Dabaiba government has become catastrophic for the citizen struggling with daily life due to the lack of liquidity in the banks and the high increase in the cost of living. We are now facing a drastic crisis that never occurred before 2021. Liquidity crisis in banks, electricity crisis, gas crisis, health crisis, fuel crisis etc. these are all problems that Libyans face every day. In addition to the educational crisis! Thousands of Libyans are unable to allow their children to study and go to school because they cannot afford school fees. We cannot deny the realization of some positive points, but these are all in favor of his political interests. All Dabaiba did was win the sympathy of the Libyan roads and try to stay at the helm of his government for a long time. I also heard from his entourage of him that he intended to stay in power for up to 10 years and that’s what he said himself. He did not come to prepare the elections, but to remain in the government and serve his interests.”
Since you think so, why didn’t you join Fathi Bashagha’s program?
“This is actually the bottom line, in fact, my team and I were not convinced by the Dabaiba government, which came to secure the elections and failed, but actually ran for the presidential elections; nor from the Bashagha government, which came for political purposes. Today we want a consensual government in Libya, formed in the presence of the Libyan south, east and west, with all its components including the Amazigh, parties and civil society. We are involving all the spectra of our society and all the armed forces that we count will be part of the army and of the security institutions”.
You have visited Russia and Turkey. For what reasons?
“The purpose of the visit to Turkey was to present this consensus project to the Turkish authorities who are present in Libya as a military force in various regions. America delivered the Libyan dossier to Turkey in 2019. If Turkey does not approve or respect our consensual project, we will continue with this program and no country can stand in our way. We decide our fate and we are determined to end the chaos, corruption and terrorism in Libya. The purpose of the visit to Russia focused on very important points, including ending support for Haftar and demanding that their forces occupying the Al-Jufra base and oil fields withdraw, leaving the Libyan people the opportunity to decide their destiny and build their State. We had to contact Moscow and ask to get a meeting with Foreign Ministry officials to discuss the future of the Wagner forces in Libya because I think their presence is a tense factor, not a stabilizing one. I also asked for the removal of mines planted by mercenaries of the Wagner group in southern Tripoli during their participation in the attack on Tripoli in 2019 or for the delivery of mine maps because they represent a threat to the life of the Libyan citizen. Thirty-six Libyans lost their lives when they returned to their homes after the war, due to mines planted on their farms, in front of their homes, inside their properties and in the middle of public roads. These are the key points that we have asked Russia and there is a positive response and an understanding from Moscow, but it seems that after the war in Ukraine, Russia has other purposes towards the Western community.”