Libya continues to be at a delicate and fragile juncture on its path to unity and stability through the ballot box. That was the message delivered by the outgoing UN Special Envoy Jan Kubis in a briefing to the Security Council exactly one month ahead of planned presidential and parliamentary elections in the country.

Some 98 candidates have registered to run in the presidential race, but a final candidates’ list is expected to be published within weeks once the country’s electoral commission has completed its vetting and appeals process.

More than 2.8 million of the country’s seven million people are registered to vote.

After the country descended into chaos in the aftermath of the NATO-led ouster of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and a subsequent war between two major sides that pitted the UN-backed Government of National Accord against renegade commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, a ceasefire reached in 2020 has largely held prompting stakeholders to push for elections.

“I echo the call on all Libyan stakeholders and candidates to respect their commitments towards holding elections on 24 December 2021, to publicly commit to respecting the rights of their political opponents before, during, and after the elections, refrain from using hate or revenge speech, and threats, incitement to violence and boycott, to accept the results of the elections, and to uphold their commitment to the Code of Conduct prepared by the HNEC (High National Election Commission),” said Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Libya  Jan Kubis.

Muammar Gaddafi’s son is running for presidency:

But Kubis highlighted that while planning towards elections continues, vocal opposition to the poll persists with some leaders and constituencies questioning the legality of electoral laws while noting that conditions in the country are less than desirable for the holding of elections.

At the same time, even those who oppose the elections, based on the current legislative framework and constitutional basis, without a permanent constitution and on less than optimal conditions, agree that Libya needs free and fair democratic elections.

“As they said, the way towards a stable and united Libya is through ballot boxes and not through ammunition boxes. Also, those in favour of the elections stress that political confrontations must not and will not turn into an armed confrontation, that they will not follow that path, and that Libyans will find, among themselves, solutions for their problems if left without foreign interference.”

He also flagged as a grave concern – the continued presence of foreign fighters in the country in violation of Council resolutions, high rates of arbitrary and unlawful detention while detainees – often migrants or refugees – are subjected to torture and sexual violence among other human rights abuses.

“Libya continues to be at a delicate and fragile juncture on its path to unity and stability through the ballot boxes. While risks associated with the ongoing political polarisation around the elections are evident and present, not holding the elections could gravely deteriorate the situation in the country and could lead to further division and conflict. As demonstrated by the high number of registered voters and candidates, the Libyan people are yearning for an opportunity to elect their representatives and give them the mandate to govern Libya through democratic legitimacy. The aspiration and determination of the majority of Libyans to participate in the presidential and parliamentary elections as candidates or voters must be fulfilled.”

Complicating efforts in the country, the UN on Tuesday confirmed Kubis’ resignation less than a year into his role as special envoy. He was appointed in January this year after his predecessor Ghassan Salame quit in March last year due to health and stress-related reasons associated with the job.

Kubis told the Council that he’d offered to stay as special envoy for a transitional period to ensure business continuity but that the Secretary-General accepted his departure, effective 10 December, two weeks before the poll.