Since the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has never been the same again. The turmoil has been worse, and the damage has increased. His death did not solve things, but worsened them. And leadership in the country has been a thorny issue.
The country is set to have parliamentary and presidential elections later this year. To that effect, campaign group and rights watchdog Human Rights Watch gas warned that Libya is not capable of conducting elections, free and fair elections. The date for the elections has not been set yet.
Despite the upcoming elections having been endorsed by the United Nations and the European Union, there are some sticking points that the Human Rights Watch is worried about. HRW worries “voters, candidates, and political parties” are at risk of “coercion, discrimination, and intimidation” if the ballot goes ahead.
It sounds an all too familiar story, especially taking into account the conflation of the county’s history and the present situation prevailing. Is Libya a case of a completely failed democracy with no hope of respite and recourse in sight?
The chaos that currently characterizes the North-African state following the death of Gaddafi in 2011 has prompted the US-based group to be of the assertion that an elections cannot proceed in the country. So, the current conditions are not favourable for free and fair elections.
“Libya today couldn’t be further away from respect for the rule of law and human rights, let alone from acceptable conditions for free elections,” Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The implication is that the country lacks the fundamental tenets of a functional democratic state where the rule of law takes precedence. HRW says free speech, rule of law, assembly and a “functioning judiciary that is able to deal fairly and promptly with disputes concerning the elections” must be respected. As HRW says, armed groups continue to threaten, intimidate, and attack judicial figures and officials.
Under the current conditions, it is not far-fetched to say that Libya is a broken nation. The country is currently run by a myriad of rival groups, which has made it difficult to secure any kind of electoral process. There is no proper definition of the presidential power and amendments to the constitution and electoral laws are imperative.
Presidential hopefuls include Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, who leads the UN-backed government of national accord, and the military commander in East Libya, Khalifa Haftar, who leads the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA). Late last year, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam also announced his intentions to lead the country.