A group of demonstrators affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya began a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the Electoral Commission in the capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday, December 7, to demand the postponement of the elections until a referendum on the constitution is held.
This reveals the Brotherhood’s escalation in the run up to the presidential elections scheduled for December 24, especially after they reached a consensus on positions with parliamentarians affiliated with the one-time army commander and current presidential candidate, Khalifa Haftar, regarding the postponement of the aforementioned entitlement.
The position of the Islamists in Libya against the presidential elections is not a matter of dispute. For years, they refused to hold elections, justifying their position every time under the pretext of the necessity of a referendum on the constitution.
Video clips posted on social media showed the moment the protesters arrived at the commission headquarters and set up tents in front of it to carry out a sit-in, raising slogans “No to elections without a constitution.”
Libyan media confirmed on Tuesday evening that these people belong to the Agniwa militia (affiliated with Abdulghani al-Kikli), the Zawiya and Misrata militias, which are affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Observers believe that the Brotherhood’s escalation against the elections, which comes after calls from Brotherhood leaders to sit in front of the commission, reflects their lack of confidence that the caretaker prime minister, Abdel Hamid al-Dabaiba, who is close to them and Turkey, will win the presidency.
Their fears increased about the defeat of Dabaiba, who launched a large-scale propaganda campaign as Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, assassinated leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son, returned to the presidential race by a judicial decision, after the commission excluded him in the first stage.
Those who follow the Libyan issue know that the Brotherhood opposes the presidential elections, which enjoyed wide international support, faced developments in the electoral process that would not guarantee victory for any candidate completely loyal to them, especially in light of the decline in the organization’s popularity.
Parliament member Saleh Fahima called to stop tampering with the elections, saying in a Facebook post, “When you confiscate the opinion of the majority and impede the realization of their desires in exercising their democratic right, you have abandoned the peaceful expression of your opinion and entered the process of trying to subjugate the opinions of others to yours.”
Fahima stressed that elections are not a goal in themselves, but rather a means to reach political stability, adding, “whoever accepts democracy as a way to rule and a way to reach it, must accept its results.”
This comes at a time when attitudes have begun to change regarding holding the presidential elections on time, as the Parliament, which was one of the most prominent supporters of the election, is seeking to postpone it in the midst of the recent developments.
This change in the position of the Parliament, according to observers, reflects the failure of its efforts to counter the Islamists’ maneuvers regarding the elections, especially after those efforts had counterproductive results, as they contributed, for example, to the return to the presidential race of Dabaiba, who is close to the Brotherhood, like other candidates armed with legal loopholes, most of which are found in the election law. The precedent was set by the House of Representatives itself.
On Wednesday, December 8, parliamentarian Ziad Daghim, who is known for his supportive positions for Haftar and the Libyan army, called for the postponement of the elections, which reflects the Brotherhood’s stance against holding the elections on time.
Daghim said in a statement to the local website 24 Hours that “the electoral process entered the recovery room and the parliament is trying to save it by forming a follow-up committee and communicating with the commission and the relevant institutions,” stressing “the need to renew blood in the legislative authority next February in two steps. The first is to hold parliamentary elections, even if partial, until a settlement is found in the presidential elections.”
He continued, “The second is the re-election of a new presidency in Parliament, according to the partial parliamentary elections.”
Prior to that, on Wednesday itself, the President of the Brotherhood’s Advisory Council of State, Khaled Al-Mashri, called for postponing the presidential and parliamentary elections to February next year.
Featured image: The Muslim Brotherhood in Libya started a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the Election Commission, demanding postponement of the presidential election which is scheduled for December 24. Photo: Al Arab