Panafrican News Agency

Libyan media highlight fervour of election candidacies, discord over withdrawal of mercenaries

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The high number of people declaring their intention to contest Libya's presidential election and the intervention of foreign powers to support the organisation of the vote dominated Libyan newspapers last week.

The press also focused on the tug-of-war between the major powers over the withdrawal of mercenaries, fighters and foreign forces.

Under the headline "The presidential race is heating up... and the great powers are losing their neutrality", the Al-Wassat  newspaper wrote that Marshal Khalifa Haftar and Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi who have declared their intention to contest the election are seen as the most polarising candidates for the 24 December election.

The polarisation is not only internal, but also external, the newspaper pointed out, because of international alignment with one of the two candidates (Haftar), which is an indication that does not herald an imminent end to the legitimacy conflict in Libya.

The intention of the two personalities has triggered popular protests in several parts of the country, some of which have witnessed attacks on the offices of the High National Electoral Commission.

The Al-Wassat newspaper reported that the world's major powers are now facing the test of implementing the threats made at the Paris conference to punish those who obstruct the election.

The threat is especially by Washington and more than one European country, following the insistence on the date of the election, despite the opinion of some that there is no consensus on a constitutional basis for the elections agreed upon by all parties.

US State Department spokesman Samuel Warburg, however, said, according to the newspaper, that the United States and the international community find it difficult to imagine Seif Al-Islam Gaddafi assuming a government position in Libya.

This is because Seif Al-Islam is wanted by the International Criminal Court and is subject to international sanctions. He noted that this is not only Washington's position, but the position of all countries in the international community.

From Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called, according to Al-Wassat newspaper, for all political forces to be given the opportunity to run in the elections, including supporters of the former regime, so that the elections are inclusive.

The presentation of Seif Gaddafi's candidacy for the presidential election coincided with the visit of a Russian military delegation to Tripoli, where it met with the chief of staff of the Libyan army, General Mohamed Al-Hadda.

Despite the acceleration of the filing of presidential candidates, the holding of the election remains uncertain, with the possibility of a postponement, the newspaper concluded.

Afrigatenews echoed the statements of the US ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, indicating that there should be an opportunity for Libyans to express their views and not let candidates be exploited by those who want to sabotage the electoral process.

He threatened that anyone who incites violence or prevents citizens from voting will pay the price.

He said that his country supports the holding of inclusive elections, despite the existence of some controversy over the procedural aspects and the candidates themselves.

Addressing the issue of the withdrawal of mercenaries, fighters and foreign forces, Al-Wassat said that world powers have clearly stated their position on the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign forces.

Thus, Russia said, the ongoing military withdrawal from Libya could lead to a disruption of the existing balance on the ground, considering that this balance is the reason for the continuation of the ceasefire.

Britain, for its part, stressed that Libyan sovereignty would be undermined if the country did not get rid of "foreign military interference".

Quoting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the newspaper said he stressed the importance of not disturbing the military balance on the ground, "with regard to the withdrawal of supporters from the west and east of Libya".

For him, it is this balance that "has kept the ceasefire in place for over a year".

He warned that "if it is violated now (and I hope it is not), the risk of renewed hostilities will intensify," according to the newspaper.

For his part, the British minister for the Middle East and North Africa, James Cleverly, stressed the importance of withdrawing all foreign forces and mercenaries without delay, adding that the UN mission should work to monitor and verify the presence and withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries.

-0- PANA BY/IS/BBA/MA 21Nov2021