Deadly clashes in Libya’s capital this week underscore the huge challenges of holding planned elections later this year in the chaos-hit North African country, analysts say.
While a battle raged in Tripoli on Monday between rival militias, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed his determination to see Libyans head to the polls.
He was behind a May meeting in Paris at which four Libyan leaders agreed to prepare the country for elections at the end of the year, despite ongoing instability.
Since the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) was installed in Tripoli in March 2016, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, it has failed to impose its authority across the whole country.
The GNA is confronted with a hostile parliament elected in 2014 and based in the eastern city of Tobruk, as well as opposition from military strongman Khalifa Haftar whose self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east.
Despite all three leaders being present in Paris, along with Khalid al-Mishri, head of the High Council of State in Tripoli, other influential Libyan actors were notably absent.
Militias have ‘taken over’
Even as the GNA pushes forward with plans for an election, it remains unclear whether officials will be able to establish the necessary security for a nationwide vote.
The internationally recognised government has not been in a position to form an army of its own and swathes of Libya remain in the hands of dozens of different armed groups.
Militias benefitted from the chaos which ensued after the ousting of dictator of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and have since become powerful actors.
“Unfortunately, in the last seven years, the armed groups have taken over in Libya,” said Federica Saini-Fasanotti, from the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.
“They control the territory and are so strong that they can threaten those who should, instead, govern them,” she said, arguing militias have been “legitimised” by officials.
In the latest flare-up of violence, two militias linked to the GNA faced off in residential areas of Tripoli on Monday. Five people were killed and 33 wounded, according to the health ministry, before a truce was reached.
Small Arms Survey, a Geneva-based NGO, found that over the past two years Tripoli’s militias have “transformed into criminal networks straddling politics, big business, and the administration”.
“They have infiltrated the bureaucracy and are increasingly able to coordinate their actions across different state institutions. The government is powerless in the face of militia influence,” the organisation said in a June report.
Khaled el-Montasser, an international relations professor at the University of Tripoli, said the recent clashes demonstrated the failure of a political accord signed in Libya in December 2015.
The pan-Libyan deal signed in Morocco paved the way for militias to be dismantled and for Libya’s largest cities to be cleared of heavy weapons.
“It’s necessary to put in place a special security force tasked with protecting state institutions and preparing a favourable climate for elections to take place,” said Montasser.
Disagreements in parliament
While security remains a vital factor in holding a vote, the Paris accord also foresaw the creation of an electoral law and the constitutional base for elections by September 16.
Numerous Libyan actors have demanded a draft constitution be prepared and put to a referendum, ahead of an election, but lawmakers in Tobruk have so far failed to agree on the text.
Parliamentary sessions have repeatedly been adjourned due to lawmakers arguing over the legal text to organise a referendum, and on Monday MPs failed to get the necessary number to adopt the law.
Speaker Aguila Saleh Issa said that if they fail to reach quorum on Monday, he would apply a decision taken by the assembly in 2014 which would allow the direct election of a “temporary president” until the adoption of the constitution.
But decisions taken by the Tobruk-based parliament are often challenged by its rivals in the west of the country, analysts say, and therefore have little chance of success in the absence of a wide consensus.
Al-Shabaab Executes 3 Men In Somalia
Somalia’s militant Islamist group al-Shabaab has killed three men execution-style, accusing two of them of working for the army. The third man it killed was an elderly clan leader who helped choose candidates for the 2016 parliamentary elections.
Media linked to al-Shabaab reported the killings took place in front of a crowd in Mubarak village in southern Somalia.
The militants, who are affiliated to al-Qaeda, control much territory in rural areas of Somalia and are fighting to overthrow the un-backed government.
The militants are known for killing suspected informants, including those accused of spying for the U.S. And other foreign intelligence agencies.
Kenya Drops Plans To Introduce Controversial New School Syllabus
Kenya’s education minister Amina Mohamed says the government has dropped plans to introduce a controversial new school syllabus at the start of the academic year in January because it is not ready to roll it out.
The syllabus has caused huge debate in Kenya as it makes radical changes, moving away from an exam-focused to a competency-focused system, which the government says will improve the chances of building successful careers.
The minister added the government still needed to train teachers, and the earliest it would be able to roll out the syllabus would be in 2023.
She said it would be a bad idea to roll out something with which the government is not at all comfortable. The minister said the government also takes parents into consideration.
Tanzania’s President Signs Agreement For The Construction Of Controversial Hydro-Electric Power Project
Tanzania’s president John Magufuli has signed an agreement for the construction of a controversial hydro-electric power project in one of East Africa’s best-known game reserves.
The power plant on the Rufiji River in the Selous game reserve is to be built by two Egyptian firms at a cost of more than three billion dollars.
The project has been strongly opposed by conservationists who warn it would cause irreversible damage to the wildlife habitat, and impact the lives of about 200,000 people who depend on the environment.
The Selous game reserve is a UNESCO world heritage site and is home to a vast array of wildlife.
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