Libya women's bloc demand politicians stop 'delaying tactic', work towards December elections

Libya women's bloc demand politicians stop 'delaying tactic', work towards December elections
A women's bloc is challenging a largely male political class in Libyan politics, fearing they will try to delay elections to cling onto power.
2 min read
05 April, 2021
Zahra Langhi is an expert on gender, conflict resolution and peace-building [Getty]
A group of women activists in Libya have urge their country's politicians to ensure they uphold their commitment to national elections, set for 24 December.

The women's bloc, which is part of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, is made up of lawyers and civil society campaigners and is a newly empowered force that has been challenging the country’s male-dominated political space.

The group, who have insisted that a minimum of 30 percent of the top posts in the new interim government are reserved for women, is set to meet in Tunis this week, according to The Guardian.

"There are political factions in Libya - an elite - that make money out of the status quo, staying in power and so do not want elections. It's another Lebanon. They are the people the previous UN special envoy Stephanie Williams called 'the political dinosaurs'," said one of the group members Zahra Langhi, cited by The Guardian. 

"The whole idea is we must have a political reset in Libya so we have to have new elected legitimate institutions," added Langhi, who is also an expert on gender, conflict resolution, and peace-building.

Calls by some members of the interim government for a summer referendum on a new constitution are part of a "delaying tactic", Langhi said.

She called on the LPDF to "remain as the guarantors and monitors of the roadmap towards elections, meeting every month to ensure there is no backsliding".

Only 12 percent of Libya's councillors are women. Many women who have put themselves forward for office in the past have been kidnapped or assassinated.

Haneen Al-Abdali, the daughter of the human rights lawyer Hanan Al-Barassi, who was killed last November, was "arrested" by a militia in Benghazi in March - a sign that women activists remain at risk. 

She was held a few hours after posting on Facebook the names of her mother's alleged killers, who had close links with the eastern military warlord Khalifa Haftar.

Libya descended into chaos after dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, resulting in multiple forces vying for power.

Fighting only came to a halt last summer, and a formal ceasefire in October was followed by the establishment last week of a new unity government led by interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.

The interim executive faces daunting challenges to unify the country's institutions, end a decade of fighting marked by international interference and prepare for presidential and parliamentarian elections on 24 December.

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