Libya must set 'definitive' election date, says speaker of parliament

Presidential poll had been due to take place on December 24, followed by legislative polls

Libya's speaker of parliament Aguila Saleh is a candidate in the presidential election. AP

Libya's parliamentary speaker Aguila Saleh said the committee responsible for overseeing elections must set a "definitive" date for postponed presidential and legislative polls by the end of the month.

A presidential election was due to take place on December 24, followed by legislative polls, but the UN-sponsored electoral process was delayed in the troubled North African nation amid political tension.

Those tensions pit Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army, and an eastern-based parliament against authorities centred around an interim government in the capital, Tripoli, in the west, led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

Libya has been ravaged by violence and insecurity ever since a Nato-backed uprising in the oil-rich nation toppled and killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Speaking at a parliamentary session in the eastern port city of Tobruk on Tuesday, Mr Saleh said a parliamentary committee overseeing elections must present its "final report" by the end of January.

The report must detail both "the steps necessary to remove the obstacles which hampered the electoral process" in December and "determine a definitive date" for holding the ballot, he said.

Months of disputes finally resulted in the vote being postponed a few days before it was to take place as the committee overseeing the election declared it impossible to hold as scheduled.

It was derailed by bitter arguments, including rows over divisive candidates and a disputed legal framework.

The commission must also present to parliament "a complete vision of the executive power and the formation of a new government", said Mr Saleh, who is himself a candidate in the presidential election.

A group of Libyan activists protest against the postponement of the presidential elections in Tripoli. AFP

His demand for a fixed poll date comes a day after he called for a new interim government to be established in Tripoli, noting that the current executive has outlived its mandate.

Libya's parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the interim government in September.

Mr Saleh has called on the attorney general to "investigate" the government's expenses along with "abuses of power", including nominations to posts.

The call came as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged Libya's political factions and parties to hold safe, "inclusive and credible" presidential and parliamentary elections as soon as possible.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 9:43 AM