European Council on Foreign Relations

Three things to watch for in the Libya elections

On 25 June Libya will hold its second parliamentary elections since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Voter registration has been fairly low: out of an estimated population of 6 million, only 1.5 million people have registered to vote, as compared to 2.8 million in the July 2012 elections.

The United Nations and the main European Union member states have pressed ahead with the elections. The United Kingdom has provided 64 percent of the $6.5-million fund that supported the electoral process. And the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has provided crucial technical support.

Results are not likely to come in quickly. And when they do come in, the returns will be hard to understand, because under the current electoral law, no party lists are allowed. Instead, nominally independent candidates run in single-seat constituencies. Three factors will be helpful to consider in

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ECFR’s latest events and podcasts on the situation in Libya

Since the publication of our "A European Agenda to Support Libya's Transition", Libya has been steadily in the headlines: the violent confrontation between retired general Heftar and his mostly Islamist opponents; the existence of two alternative governments each claiming to be the legitimate executive; today's verdict by the Supreme Court that declared the election of Ahmed Maitig's cabinet "illegal" and "unconstitutional".

In the last weeks, ECFR has organized several public and private discussions about its policy-brief and the situation in Libya. For a recording of our event in London “Crisis in Libya, what can Europe do?” click here. We also have a ten minute podcast on which speaker Abdul Rahman Alageli explains why Libya might be better off without oil money, and why the Libyan state is a challenge to an effective democratic transition. For those based in Brussels, a

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Libya: a way out of the crisis?

The past weeks in Libya have been rather rocky ones: more clashes between militias, more bloodshed, less oil production, ever deteriorating state authority. Last Friday alone, more than 40 people were killed and dozens injured in Tripoli. Given the situation in the past two years, one might wonder where the news is: Libya has been drifting into chaos since the fall of Gaddafi. Nevertheless, there is news worth some thought for both European and American policymakers struggling to understand what their contribution to the stabilisation of the country might look like.

The reported clashes are not just among militias, but rather between the nonviolent segment of Libyan society and the self-proclaimed revolutionaries (Thuwwar as the militiamen call themselves in Arabic). A relevant part of Friday’s victims were shot dead during a popular demonstration against one of Tripoli’s militias.

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Libya: what can Europe do?

It is probably too early to draw conclusions from what happened Thursday morning in Tripoli with the kidnapping and quick release of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. These events, however, do raise some useful questions for those who wish to understand better what Europe can do for Libya.

The first question is about the identity of the group that supposedly carried out the kidnapping. If reports that it is part of Libya’s official security apparatus are confirmed, then Thursday’s events should be framed as a very peculiar coup attempt rather than as an act of terrorism. In other words, if the above assertion is true, the struggle is not between the government and armed groups but within the new post-Gaddafi government, between armed “revolutionaries” and Libya’s nascent democratic system.

That a different armed group of “revolutionaries” supposedly freed Zeidan further confirms this

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