Panafrican News Agency

Libyan newspapers highlight alternatives to break deadlock in political, budget processes

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The search for alternative solutions to the deadlock in Libya's political process, after the failure of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) to finalise a legal basis for the December elections, and the persistent blockage in the adoption of the budget by the parliament dominated the country's newspapers this week.

They also reported the Prime Minister's recourse to the Central Bank to find funding to fill the gap in the budget.

Under the headline "Alternative options to the elections, scare Libyans... and a last chance for Parliament and the Forum," the Al-Wassat newspaper wrote that since the failure of the last round of the LPDF in Geneva, everyone in Libya is asking for alternative options to overcome the "blockage" to holding the presidential and parliamentary elections on schedule.

With less than six months for the elections, differences persist on how to proceed: Some members of the LPDF want a referendum on the constitution before holding the elections and another group calls for first amending the draft of the current constitution, holding a referendum on it before the election.

At the same time, there are those who support elections first before addressing the crisis of the constitution.

There are also those who support holding simultaneous parliamentary and presidential elections, while others insist on the need to stick to parliamentary elections only.

According to the newspaper, behind the complex contrast, is the insistence of several political parties for a referendum on the draft Constitution, whose adoption will obstruct the candidacy of military leaders and those having foreign nationalities, especially since the conditions of candidacy for the post of head of state constitute the core of the existing blockage.

In the context of political failure, the newspaper reported that the High Electoral Commission, the only body far from political tug-of-war, has almost finished with the logistical procedures to finalise the constitutional basis regulating the elections, by opening the revision of the register.

Its chairperson, Imad Al-Sayeh, according to the newspaper, has left another window of hope by extending the date of receipt of the constitutional basis of the elections to 1 August, instead of the current 1 July.

He now envisages, along with the UN mission, the completion by parliament of the required electoral laws. According to the Commission's estimates, the number of registered voters is two million out of 4.2 million who are entitled to vote in the elections, about 48%.

The UN is calling for another meeting in Geneva of the LPDF and the newly formed Consensus Committee "to continue to consult with each other in order to reach a practical compromise solution and to strengthen what unites them".

For its part, the Afrigatenews newspaper reported on the adoption of the budget, saying that Parliament will once again hold a plenary session on Monday to examine the state budget for the year 2021, amidst several disputes and sharp disagreements on the chapters on Development.

In addition, there are disparities between the positions on issues of varying magnitude, including the distribution of key positions in sovereign institutions. These include the Finance and Control bodies, in addition to the appointment of a Minister of Defence as called for by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission.

Quoting MP Saleh Fahima, the newspaper said that "if the government is not able to accomplish what the parliament has asked for in terms of revising the budget, the parliament will vote on the finance law with the amendments made based on the observations of the finance committee. This means that Parliament will impose its will on the government by adopting the Finance Committee's bill, which provides for a budget of 76.5 billion dinars (US$16.92 billion) instead of the government's proposed version of the state budget, which is estimated at 93 billion dinars (US$20.57)".

Fahima said that the budget submitted by the government is the largest budget in parliament's its history.

The government has explained that the size of the budget is because of depreciation of the Libyan currency, the dinar, which is now trading at 4.4 dinar to US$1 from 1.34 dinar.

The newspaper recalled that Parliament informed the government delegation during its meeting with the Finance Committee that if its observations were not followed, it would resort to voting on the budget according to the observations prepared by MPs and the report presented by the budget committee.

Returning to the issue of the budget, the newspaper Al-Wassat, reported that the existence of a government of national unity has been recognised by the authorities in the east and west of the country.

However, the climate during last week's presence of Prime Minister Abdelhamid Al-Dibbaa at the voting session in Parliament on the budget, showed the extent of the existing dispute, which obliges the Prime Minister to seek other legal solutions, in case of persistent failure to vote in favour of the budget law on Monday.

This situation, according to the newspaper, further complicates the politics of the country in view of the use of the budgetary file in negotiations on appointments to sovereign positions.

For the sixth time the parliament will hold its next session in Tobruk, with the adoption of the state budget for the year 2021 at the top of its agenda.

-0- PANA BY/IS/BBA/MA 11July2021