On 14 July, Government of National Accord (GNA) President Fayez Serraj announced a new plan to realize the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), which would include parliamentary AND Presidential elections by March 2018. Also on the docket is the establishment of a high national reconciliation council, large scale disarmament, demobilisation of militias, and major economic reforms. Serraj proposes that a joint dialogue committee from both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS) agree on a new presidential election and framework that would ensuring future governmental legitimacy, as well as a new election law as part of the amendments to the LPA.
Serraj’s proposed timeframe leading to his government handing over power is generating a mix of reactions in Libya. Following the announcement of the disbanding and disarming of militias, some armed groups blocked Serraj’s speech on satellite channels in an area it controls. In Tubruq, the HoR President Ageelah Saleh, rejected Serraj’s proposal, stating that no elections could take place before a constitution is agreed.
Serraj’s timely announcement closely follows Haftar’s self-proclaimed liberation of Benghazi, and grand public statements threatening that the Libyan National Army (LNA) would be ‘forced’ to do something if there is not progress made towards 17 December 2017 deadline for the LPA. Some view Serraj’s rhetoric as an attempt at solidifying the slow-moving rapprochement between rival forces in eastern and western Libya as facilitated with help from regional neighbours: Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, behind the UN and US plan of elections in 2018. From the moment it was clear that the HoR would never vote to approve the Presidential Council’s legitimacy, Former US Special Envoy to Libya Jonathan Winer had been working on this plan of elections in 2018. Serraj’s deference to these initiatives demonstrates his desire to bolster international legitimacy for the GNA as Haftar’s military strength increases.