Libyan delegates vote on transitional government

Geneva (AFP) –


Libyan delegates at UN-backed talks began voting Friday for a transitional prime minister and three-member presidency council to govern the war-ravaged North African country until December elections.

The vote is part of a complex process it is hoped will help shepherd the deeply-divided state towards peace, and build on a fragile ceasefire to end more than a decade of devastating conflict.

The 75 participants at the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) -- selected by the United Nations to represent a broad cross-section of society -- were shown on footage broadcast live by the UN casting their ballots at a venue outside Geneva.

They were voting on four alternative line-ups for the four posts: prime minister, president of the presidency council and two further members of the presidency council.

"We have four lists on which you are going to decide today," UN envoy Stephanie Williams, who is moderating the talks, told delegates after they stood for the national anthem.

"They are diverse. They are representative of Libya's greatness and its potential."

- 30 percent women pledge -

The four prime ministerial candidates all provided written pledges committing to an agreed roadmap towards holding national elections on December 24, and to respecting the results of that vote.

"Last but not least, they will commit to appointing not less than 30 percent women in senior leadership positions in the new government," said Williams.

"That means ministers, deputy ministers -- and I believe that should include deputy prime ministers."

The empty wooden ballot box was held up and shown to the room and the television cameras before voting began.

"We will proceed with the polling. Please vote with your conscience," Williams said.

Oil-rich Libya has been torn by civil war since a NATO-backed uprising led to the ousting and killing of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, and the country has become a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate bids to reach Europe.

The LPDF has been meeting outside Geneva since Monday.

They held a first round of voting on Tuesday, but with none of the 24 candidates meeting the required threshold of 70 percent of votes, elections moved to a second round based on four alternative lists for the four posts.

- Clear majority needed -

In this round of voting, the required selection threshold is 60 percent of valid votes.

Should no list reach that threshold, another round will be held to vote on the two lists which obtain the highest number of votes. A straightforward majority wins.

The three council posts will represent Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east and Fezzan in the south.

According to the UN, the transitional council will be tasked with "reuniting state institutions and ensuring security" until the December 24 elections.

Control of the country is now split between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and its rival, the eastern-based House of Representatives backed by military leader Khalifa Haftar, who launched a failed offensive to seize the capital in 2019.

A fragile ceasefire agreed in Geneva in October has largely held, despite threats by Haftar to resume fighting.

The UN Security Council on Thursday instructed Secretary General Antonio Guterres to deploy ceasefire monitors to Libya.