SASG Stephanie Williams Remarks to members of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State UN-Facilitated Joint Committee to Determine the Constitutional Framework for Elections
Cairo, Egypt | 15-20 May 2022
Welcome back, everyone, and before I begin, I hope that you had a blessed end to the holy month of Ramadan and a joyous Eid. Thank you for being here today for the second session of the joint committee of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State to determine the constitutional arrangements that are necessary to fulfill the legitimate and longstanding democratic aspiration of 2.8 million Libyan citizens who registered to vote to elect their representatives.
I would like to again express my deepest gratitude to our hosts, the government of Egypt, for their gracious welcome, provision of services, and facilities to enable this meeting. Their support builds on a long tradition of positive engagement of regional partners that is key to ensuring a stable future for Libya and, therefore, the region.
On the occasion of this second meeting, I remind you that we are convening you here as time is quickly running out, and the Libyan people, more than ever, want the stability that can only be realized with the holding of national elections on the basis of a sound and consensual constitutional framework. As you know, the work of this committee started on 13 April and it should complete its work by 28 May – a total of 45 days.
In all of my engagements, my message has remained the same: after more than a decade of tumultuous upheaval, the Libyan people are tired of war and endless competition over control of the executive power and Libya’s economic resources and want to choose their representatives so that their long-awaited dream of stability and prosperity can finally be achieved. I look forward to working with you to facilitate a much-anticipated agreement on these key questions in just under a week’s time.
I would like to welcome all of you again to Cairo and thank you for your presence here with us today. I recently spoke with your respective leadership and must note that I appreciate the support of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State of this UN-facilitated initiative.
I commend your participation and commitment to returning to the negotiating table to treat this most important task of determining the constitutional framework needed for national elections.
One month has passed since our last meeting and Libya remains at this critical inflection point, at which the only remaining solution is to move towards inclusive, fair, transparent, and credible national elections in order to respect the will of the 2.8 million Libyan citizens who registered to vote. All other solutions have been tried and tested, from war to power-sharing arrangements, to different governments, and none of them have worked. This should serve as a key lesson and reminder to us that we have to respect and help realize the political rights of the Libyan people to choose their leaders through the ballot box.
I understand that you have each consulted with your respective chambers and leadership and that you have thoroughly reflected on the discussions that took place in this very room last month. I thank you for your efforts to consider points of negotiation and potential consensus during these past few weeks and acknowledge your willingness to continue to build on the consensus that was reached in our last meeting in defining the bylaws and principles of this committee.
In this new round of talks, my team and I look forward to helping you facilitate further agreement on the delicate, challenging questions and core components of the constitutional framework – such as the political system, eligibility criteria, and electoral timeline - so that, by the time we finish our time here, the pathway forward is crystal clear. This session is rife with opportunity to transform the goal of national elections into a reality for all, as we know that Libya cannot continue without the constitutional guardrails for an electoral process that clearly defines milestones and timelines going forward.
And it is your role and historical responsibility in lifting the voices of the people that is so critical to the unity and stability of your country, and, ultimately, the prosperity of your fellow citizens, and of future generations.
While there may still be points of contention and differences in your positions, we are here to help you reach a consensus on these fundamental issues.
You have a responsibility to restore the trust of the Libyan people, who are watching this exercise between their key legislative institutions with great expectations and high hopes for a positive, tangible, and implementable outcome that results in the resumption of the electoral process in the shortest possible timeframe.
As polarization in the country has increasingly worsened since December 2021, this session constitutes your last chance to provide a credible response to the expectations of the Libyan people and make concrete progress on these issues. Delays and an open-ended process will not work and will inevitably lead to further division and conflict from where it will be much harder to bring Libya back on the path to stability.
I trust that you will do all that is necessary to reach this positive and tangible outcome.