Sending shock waves around the world, on November 6, the Presidential Council of the interim Government of National Unity (GNU) announced that it was suspending Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush—a move that was later rejected by the interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeiba.  

Mangoush quickly won the hearts and minds of Libyans with her patriotic stance earlier in May, when she called for all foreign mercenaries and foreign forces to leave the country and elections to take place at the end of the year as demanded by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) Roadmap and the UN Security Council Resolutions. 

For her call to restore Libya’s sovereignty, Turkey’s proxy militias in Tripoli attacked the Corinthia Hotel, searching for her, believing her to be inside. Moreover, in response, Turkey’s Foreign Minister announced that Turkish forces will not leave Libya even if the government of Libya demands it.   

The GNU’s explicit duties are to deliver elections, dismantle militias and to expel all foreign forces. Over 2.8 million Libyan citizens, out of a total population of almost 7 million (and out of a total of 4 million potential electorate), have already registered to vote. 

However, in an attempt to hang onto power and backed by Turkey, interim Prime Minister Dbeiba has been actively working to postpone elections—to no avail. Having failed to obstruct elections, he was also set to announce his candidacy for president in violation of the terms of the LPDF Roadmap.  

 

Half a year later, it appears that things may have changed within the Foreign Ministry as well and this could provide a clue behind the Foreign Minister’s suspension. According to an article by Africa Intelligence published on September 20, 2021, the Foreign Minister  has “now fallen into line with the prime minister ...” and taking instruction from his nephew, Ibrahim Dbeiba.  

On November 9, an anti-election conference was held in Mahary Hotel, Tripoli where speakers incited against the High National Election Commission and expressed intentions to sabotage elections. This conference was presided over by Khalid Mishri, who has also been threatening Libyans with violence should elections take place. It was also later revealed that this conference was attended by the EU, the Italian and Pakistani ambassadors, and that formal invitations to them was sent by the GNU’s Foreign Ministry. 

Many Libyans had feared that the LPDF was vulnerable to corruption and yet another mechanism to deliver a “forever interim” government and Turkish proxy, just as the GNA was. The GNA was never ratified by the democratically-elected and internationally-recognized Parliament and was meant to last only for one year. Instead, it stayed in power for six years, bringing in over 17,000 Syrian mercenaries and Turkish occupation in order to maintain a grip on its rule without consent.  

Perhaps tellingly, the Libyan Stabilization Conference that took place in Tripoli on October 21, organized by the Foreign Minister, despite all its fanfare and stated purpose of stabilizing Libya, failed to produce a statement at its conclusion expressing its explicit commitment to holding elections and expelling foreign forces.   

 

To this end, The Paris Conference taking place today, which will be attended by the Foreign Minister, is to ensure that the GNU itself complies with the election date and to combat all spoilers to elections so that Libya’s sovereignty can finally be restored.  

 

Aya Burweila  - Founder of Code on the Road and a BBC Expert Woman in Terrorism and Radicalization

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