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Parliamentary elections in Iran and how they affect domestic and global policies

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On February 21 the Islamic Republic of Iran held parliamentary elections to the country’s Majlis, a unicameral parliament known as Majlis of Islamic Council. Simultaneously, it held midterm elections of seven members of the Assembly of Experts.

Before analyzing the election outcome, it would be appropriate to say a few words about the peculiarities of the legislative power in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The specifics of legislative power in Islamic Republic of Iran

The longest section of the Iranian Constitution – Chapter VI – is devoted to the legislative branch of government, represented by the Majlis. In accordance with this chapter, the total number of parliamentary deputies is 290, of them 285 are elected by a general vote, one deputy is elected by the Zoroastrian and Jewish communities, two deputies are elected from the Armenian community and one representative is elected by the Assyrians and Christians.

Elections are held once every four years.

Under the current Constitution the parliament – Majlis – is authorized to initiate legislation in all spheres of human activity, to exercise control of the activities of top government officials (the president, ministers), including the appointment of ministers and hearings on their performance. Majlis has the right to carry out inquiries in any areas of public activity and is empowered to announce the impeachment of the president, demand that the president be removed from office, express a vote of no confidence in the government or some of its ministers. (The final decision rests with the Supreme Leader).

Parliamentary activity cannot run counter to the official state religion or the Constitution. Responsibility for ensuring that Majlis does not breach the Islamic principles or violate the Constitution lies with the Supervisory Board, or the Council for Monitoring the Observance of the Constitution.

This supra-parliamentary organ, the Supervisory Board, consists of 12 members, 6 of which (representatives of the Islamic clergy) are appointed by the Supreme Leader, and the other 6 (lawyers) are appointed by the Majlis.

The main function of the Supervisory Board is to make sure that the bills, laws and activities of officials comply with the Constitution. The Council approves Majlis decisions on candidates for key posts, including the president, deputies of the Majlis, members of Islamic councils and government ministers. It has the right to return any bill for finalization by the Majlis or veto any parliamentary decision, as well as to make amendments to the Constitution.

The Supervisory Board is empowered to monitor the elections of members of the Council of Experts (the main function of which is to elect the Supreme Leader), the president of the republic, the Majlis, as well as referendums and other forms of expression of public opinion. The SB has the right to reject candidates for the presidency, for the Majlis or the Council of Experts, as well as to abolish laws that run counter to the Constitution and Islamic principles.

The history of Iran knows instances of acute differences between the Supervisory Board and the Majlis which de facto blocked the adoption of major laws and forced the government to work in a legislative vacuum. In order to avoid such deadlocks, the Expediency Council was set up in 1988 to consider the appropriateness of the decisions taken and make the final decision in the event of disagreement between the Majlis and the SB. In later years, the powers of this Council were expanded to embrace supervision of the activities of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, the armed forcesetc.

Throughout the entire history of the IRI the Majlis has been the center of debates and the scene of open (or closed) political battles. Opposition representatives use the Majlis to voice their discontent with the policies of president or the government.

The role of the Iranian parliament becomes clear from the fact that in the past 40 years there wasn’t a government proposed by the newly elected president and fully and unanimously approved by the Majlis at first go. Under pressure from the Majlis the presidents had to replace ministers or have them as acting ones.

Of course, the Iranian Majlis does not play a major role in political decision-making. Important decisions are usually the result of informal negotiations within the political and clerical elite of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the presence of the Supreme Leader, in his office, or in the High Council of National Security.

Nevertheless, the Iranian parliament creates the appropriate decision-making atmosphere and lays the foundation of political activity in the country. The Majlis is able to assist the activities of the government or, conversely, impede or even obstruct the implementation of executive agenda.

The specifics of political landscape in IRI

The specific feature of the Iranian political landscape since the second half of the 1980s has been the formation of three ideological trends in Islamic political discourse which reflected the presence of differences within the establishment on a number of issues. These ideological trends, which can be identified as liberal-reformist, pragmatic and radically conservative, after surviving numerous transformations and changing some of their positions, still determine the development of political processes in Iran. Each of these wings have their own flanks, their own factions of the moderate, the centrists and the radicals, who are  “waging battles” as well but within the framework of a single system of political values. Fairly often, representatives of these factions change their political coloring and join the ranks of their former opponents. For this reason, analysts signal the presence of only two political affiliations: the liberal – reformists and the radical conservatives. In all likelihood, this interpretation of the political scene in Iran makes sense, the more so since the presence, as said above, of moderate factions, the centrists and the radicals in these groups makes the political landscape in the country more complicated and at the same time more colorful.

For three decades, representatives of opposing factions alternately led the executive and legislative branches and tried to put their ideas into practice. At times, their rivalry escalated so much that it turned into a grave conflict which deteriorated to involve wider sections of the society but never to an extent when it could pose a threat to the stability of the regime. At the most critical times, the intervention of the Supreme Leader balanced the situation. It should be mentioned that the fierce political struggle between representatives of the opposing doctrines has been waged exclusively within the bounds of the Islamic regime, for its preservation, strengthening and prosperity (and, of course, for power). The differences can only be found in the tactics.

The Iranian Nuclear Program (INP) has become a major factor in the country’s foreign and domestic policy since the exposure of its secret aspects in 2003. The INP triggered the anti-Iranian resolutions of the UN Security Council in 2006-2010, as well as the introduction of international and unilateral sanctions against Iran, which led to a profound economic crisis of 2012-2015.

On the other hand, the INP led reformist liberals who insisted on “nuclear talks” into Iran’s power structures. In 2013, a liberal (by Iranian standards), Hassan Rouhani, assumed the presidency, formed a government of his supporters, brilliantly held talks with permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the European Union, in 2015 concluded a most important nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) , which led to the lifting of anti-Iranian sanctions. The spectacular victory of Rouhani became the  foundation of his policy, opening broad prospects for the development of Iran, for its participation in international cooperation.

However, the radical groups opposed to Hassan Rouhani, first of all, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), used their presence in the Majlis, as well as the Institute of Islamic Councils, primarily the Supervisory Board, to thwart Rouhani’s attempts to carry out at least limited reforms. Meanwhile, corruption and poor management (including of financial and economic processes) “ate away” at the opportunities provided by the JCPOA.

In these no-easy circumstances US President Trump dealt a blow against the JCPOA, removing the United States from the agreement and announcing sanctions against Iran. The blow came as devastating for the Iranian economy, striking at the standard of living of the Iranians, at the liberal reformatory wing of the Iranian political establishment, against the fundamental principles of foreign and domestic policy of President Rouhani.

The radicals saw their chance! The radical-conservative opposition, taking advantage of the moment, accused the president of inability to handle the situation and the entire country and launched preparations for assuming control of power.

Majlis Elections 2020   

Elections to the Iranian parliament have become the most important political event of  the year 2020. The radicals and conservatives went to the polls well-prepared.

First, let’s consider a few figures. Of the nearly 83 million Iranians, 57.9 million are eligible to vote. 54,611 polling stations were opened in 208 constituencies.

Of the more than 16 thousand bids for participation in the elections as candidates for parliamentary deputies (including from 782 women), 7148 were approved for 290 seats in the Majlis. The Supervisory Board disqualified 60% of the applicants, which marked the highest dropout rate since the 1979 Revolution. The overwhelming majority of the dropouts were representatives of the liberal reformists and moderate centrists. Among them were 90 members of the current Majlis.

As a result, many supporters of the reformists and of the moderate decided to boycott the elections. And not only them. Many Iranians could no longer trust the regime, the president, the government, and the Majlis, which had failed to do anything to improve the worsening conditions of ordinary citizens. It is necessary to add that this time the turnout was influenced by the coronavirus epidemic from Chinese Wuhan which seriously affected Iran. Some voters, especially those  politically inactive, might have refrained from going into the polls for fear of catching infection.

Indeed, the February 21 turnout turned out to be a record low in the entire history of the Majlis elections after the Revolution in Iran – 42.57% of the total number of registered voters (24.6 million people). The average for the previous 10 parliamentary elections was about 60%, while the minimum stood at 51%.

According to the election results, conservative radicals who call themselves “principalists”, that is, defenders of the principles of the Islamic Revolution and the legacy of the founder of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, won a crushing victory. According to estimates, they got 223 of the 290 seats possible. In the previous Majlis, there were about 120 representatives of the radical-conservative political wing.

The coalition of reformers and moderates managed to get only 20 seats. In the previous parliament, about 140 deputies represented their interests. Thus, their result worsened seven times.

Another 36 deputies are independent candidates, that is, they do not belong to either of the two camps. The fate of 11 more seats will become clear in the second round, which will be held on April 17. One representative of the reformers and one woman have a good chance to win, so the number of women in the new Majlis may increase to 17.

In Tehran, a coalition of conservatives and hard-liners led by the former mayor of the Iranian capital, Mohammad Bagher Halibaf , won all 30 seats granted to the city. Halibaf received 1.2 million votes. In the opinion of many political analysts,  he may become Speaker of the new Majlis.

The “principalists” won a victory, not least because of the low turnout. This victory raises the issue of the legitimacy of the future parliament. Observers indicate: of  the 24.6 million people who turned out 77% voted for the conservatives, that is, 19 million of the 57.9 million eligible to vote, which is one third. Such low support for hard-liners is fraught with serious consequences in the future. And, what is important is that reform supporters are clearly keeping a low profile.

A survey conducted by ISPA (Iranian Student Interview Agency) a few days before the election revealed that in Tehran, for example, the number of students who intended to boycott the election was double the number of those who were planning to go to the polls – 44% against 21 %.

So, conservative radicals took upper hand in the struggle for the Majlis. What’s next?

Possible scenarios for developments in and around Iran

The 11th Iranian Majlis will get down to work in May. Presumably, in the first months of its activity the “parliament of the hard liners” will not make any drastic political moves, especially in the international scene.

Top on the agenda will be domestic policies – preparations for the presidential election in May 2021. President Hassan Rouhani and his government, the only state body controlled by reformers, will be number one enemy for the radicals. Of course, impeachment of the president and resignation of the government would be a perfect option for deputies of the Majlis. But the Supreme Leader, in the current circumstances, is unlikely to allow such a political explosion with unpredictable consequences.

Most likely, the newly elected deputies will start a “cold war” against the president and his team in order to blemish the activities of the reformers and deprive them of any chance of vying for the presidency and stop any of Rouhani’s supporters from entering the new government, which will be formed by the new president in 2021 (after serving for two terms, Rouhani cannot run again).

Prior to the presidential elections the new Majlis is likely to completely block the activities of the president and his government and will change the country’s political agenda not in favor of moderate forces.

Undoubtedly, anti-American, anti-Israeli, anti-Western propaganda will intensify. Measures will be tightened inside the country to prevent the penetration of Western ideology and culture. There will be a fierce fight against violators of Islamic principles and carriers of alien ideas.

As for foreign policy, the JCPOA will remain key. Two scenarios are possible in this respect.

The first, under which Iran is unlikely to perform any political somersaults, covers the period until the May presidential elections in Iran. This period also embraces the presidential elections in the USA in November 2020. Under this scenario, te “principalists” – anti-Westerners will still seek ways to address the issue of sanctions and the JCPOA as a whole, possibly through dialogue (with Europe and even with the USA ). After all, by and large, Tehran has no alternative but negotiations given that the economic and foreign policy position of Iran is becoming increasingly complicated. Not to mention the oil embargo, in 2019, not only trade with Europe collapsed by 74%. Hopes for finding an alternative in the East also crumbled: the long tentacles of American sanctions significantly cut down the volume of trade with China (-34%) and India (-79%).

In addition, Britain, France and Germany have launched a dispute resolution mechanism under the JCPOA, which could lead to the resumption of  international sanctions against Iran.

On the election day 21.02.2020, FATF after several warnings blacklisted Iran after President Rouhani failed to convince his opponents to ratify the Palermo Convention  and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

Under the second scenario, the situation around the IRI may infuriate the radicals causing them to resort to extreme measures. Amid the intensifying differences with the West it could mean a withdrawal (possibly gradual) from the JCPOA, from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) with lessening control over the INP from the IAEA.

Simultaneously, Tehran is likely to step up efforts to restore its nuclear infrastructure with a view to creating the conditions for the production of nuclear weapons.

This, as one might say, is the saddest option for the country. Presumably, neither Israel nor the United States will put up with Iran’s deliberate moves in the nuclear field with the prospect of an atomic bomb. They will surely try to get rid of such a threat by force. And this, of course, means a war.

Incidentally, the second scenario could take effect after the presidential elections in the USA and Iran, that is, upon completion of the first soft scenario. Though, before that, much can change in the world, in the Middle East and in Iran, where the “silent majority” may still manifest themselves and begin to act against the radicals.

However, whatever the scenario – soft or hard, Iran will likely be moving more and more away from progressive social and economic reforms at home. Led by the radicals, Tehran will expand the “hybrid war” against its regional and world opponents, and will toughen its foreign policy, which will become an explosive factor.

Hopefully, the pragmatic politicians, who are quite a few among the radical conservative bloc, will prevent the events from following the military scenario.

In general, we can state for sure that today in Iran we are witnessing the strengthening of the conservative wing of the Iranian establishment as a result of the influence of numerous internal and external factors, not least the aggressive and ill-considered policy of US President Donald Trump on  the withdrawal from the JCPOA and introduction of austerity sanctions against Tehran !

From our partner International Affairs

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After 10 years of war in Syria, siege tactics still threaten civilians

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The future for Syria’s people is “increasingly bleak”, UN-appointed rights experts said on Tuesday, highlighting escalating conflict in several areas of the war-ravaged country, a return to siege tactics and popular demonstrations linked to the plummeting economy.

According to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the country is not safe for refugees to return to, after a decade of war.

The panel’s findings come amid an uptick in violence in the northwest, northeast and south of the country, where the Commissioners highlighted the chilling return of besiegement against civilian populations by pro-Government forces.

“The parties to the conflict continue to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity and infringing the basic human rights of Syrians,” said head of the Commission of Inquiry, Paulo Pinheiro. “The war on Syrian civilians continues, and it is difficult for them to find security or safe haven.”

Scandal of Al Hol’s children

Professor Pinheiro also described as “scandalous” the fact that many thousands of non-Syrian children born to former IS fighters continue to be held in detention in dreadful conditions in Syria’s north-east.

“Most foreign children remain deprived of their liberty since their home countries refuse to repatriate them,” he told journalists, on the sidelines of the 48th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“We have the most ratified convention in the world, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is completely forgotten. And democratic States that are prepared to abide to this Convention they neglect the obligations of this Convention in what is happening in Al Hol and other camps and prison places.”

Some 40,000 children continue to be held in camps including Al Hol. Nearly half are Iraqi and 7,800 are from nearly 60 other countries who refuse to repatriate them, according to the Commission of Inquiry report, which covers the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. 

Blockades and bombardment

The rights experts also condemned a siege by pro-Government forces on the town of Dar’a Al-Balad, the birthplace of the uprising in 2011, along with “siege-like tactics” in Quineitra and Rif Damascus governorates.

“Three years after the suffering that the Commission documented in eastern Ghouta, another tragedy has been unfolding before our eyes in Dar’a Al-Balad,” said Commissioner Hanny Megally, in reference to the siege of eastern Ghouta which lasted more than five years – and which the commissioners previously labelled “barbaric and medieval”.

In addition to the dangers posed by heavy artillery shelling, tens of thousands of civilians trapped inside Dar’a Al-Balad had insufficient access to food and health care, forcing many to flee, the Commissioners said.

Living in fear

In the Afrin and Ra’s al-Ayn regions of Aleppo, the Commissioners described how people lived in fear of car bombs “that are frequently detonated in crowded civilian areas”, targeting markets and busy streets.

At least 243 women, men and children have been killed in seven such attacks over the 12-month reporting period, they said, adding that the real toll is likely to be considerably higher.

Indiscriminate shelling has also continued, including on 12 June when munitions struck multiple locations in Afrin city in northwest Syria, killing and injuring many and destroying parts of al-Shifa hospital.

Insecurity in areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeast Syria has also deteriorated, according to the Commission of Inquiry, with increased attacks by extremist “remnants” and conflict with Turkish forces.

Division remains

The Commissioners noted that although President Assad controls about 70 per cent of the territory and 40 per cent of the pre-war population, there seems to be “no moves to unite the country or seek reconciliation. On the contrary.”

Despite a welcome drop in the level of violence compared with previous years, the Commission of Inquiry highlighted the dangers that continue to be faced by non-combatants

The senior rights experts also highlighted mounting discontent and protests amongst the population, impacted by fuel shortages and food insecurity, which has increased by 50 per cent in a year, to 12.4 million, citing UNFPA data.

“The hardships that Syrians are facing, particularly in the areas where the Government is back in control, are beginning to show in terms of protests by Syrians who have been loyal to the State,” said Mr. Megally. They are now saying, ‘Ten years of conflict, our lives are getting worse rather than getting better, when do we see an end to this?’”

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IAEA Director General reaches agreement in Tehran, as Biden’s clock is ticking

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IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi at a press conference. Photo: IAEA/Dean Calmaa

A meeting to resolve interim monitoring issues was held in Tehran on 12 September between the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi. Grossi was on a visit to Tehran to fix roadblocks on the stalled monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, which is ever more challenging in a context where there is no diplomatic agreement to revive or supersede the JCPOA. Grossi said in a press conference on 12 September that the IAEA had “a major communication breakdown” with Iran. But what exactly does that mean?


The IAEA monitoring equipment had gone three months without being serviced and Grossi said he needed “immediate rectification” of the issues. He was able to get the Iranian side to come to an agreement. The news from Sunday was that the IAEA’s inspectors are now permitted to service the identified equipment and replace their storage media which will be kept under the joint IAEA and AEOI seals in Iran. The way and the timing are now agreed by the two sides. The IAEA Director General had to push on the terms of the agreement reached in February 2020.

Grossi underlined on Sunday that the new agreement can’t be a permanent solution. Data from the nuclear facilities is just being stored according to what commentators call “the continuity of knowledge” principle, to avoid gaps over extended time periods but the data is not available to inspectors.

When it’s all said and done, basically, it all comes down to the diplomatic level. The American withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear agreement in 2018 keeps undermining the Iran nuclear inspections on the technical level. All the inspection activities have been stalled as a result of the broken deal. The IAEA’s strategy in the interim is that at least the information would be stored and not permanently lost.

Everyone is waiting for the JCPOA to be restored or superseded. As Vali Nasr argued in the New York Times back in April this year, the clock is ticking for Biden on Iran. Iran diplomacy doesn’t seem to be on Biden’s agenda at all at the moment. That makes the nuclear inspectors’ job practically impossible.  Journalists pointed out on Sunday that the Director General’s visit found one broken and one damaged camera in one of the facilities. Grossi assured it has been agreed with Iran that the cameras will be replaced within a few days. The IAEA report notes that it was not Iran but Israel that broke the IAEA cameras in a June drone attack carried out by Israel. Presumably, Israel aimed to show Iran is not complying by committing the violations themselves.

Grossi’s visit was a part of the overall IAEA strategy which goes along the lines of allowing time for diplomacy, without losing the data in the meantime. He added that he thinks he managed to rectify the most urgent problem, which is the imminent loss of data.

The Reuters’s title of the meeting is that the agreement reached on Sunday gives “hope” to a renewed Iran deal with the US, after Iran elected a hardliner president, Ebrahim Raisi, in August this year, but that’s a misleading title. This is not the bit that we were unsure about. The question was never on the Iranian side. No one really expected that the new Iranian president would not engage with the IAEA at all. Earlier in November 2019, an IAEA inspector was not allowed on a nuclear cite and had her accreditation canceled. In November 2020, Iranian lawmakers passed a law that mandated the halt of the IAEA inspections and not to allow inspectors on the nuclear sites, as well as the resuming of uranium enrichment, unless the US sanctions are lifted. In January 2021, there were threats by Iranian lawmakers that IAEA inspectors would be expelled. Yet, the new Iranian President still plays ball with the IAEA.

It is naïve to think that Iran should be expected to act as if there was still a deal but then again, US foreign policy is full of naïve episodes. “The current U.S. administration is no different from the previous one because it demands in different words what Trump demanded from Iran in the nuclear area,” Khamenei was quoted to have said in his first meeting with President Raisi’s cabinet.

“We don’t need a deal – you will just act as if there was still a deal and I will act as if I’m not bound by a deal” seems to be the US government’s line put bluntly. But the ball is actually in Biden’s court. The IAEA Director General is simply buying time, a few months at a time, but ultimately the United States will have to start moving. In a diplomatic tone, Grossi referred on Sunday to many commentators and journalists who are urging that it is time.

I just don’t see any signs on Biden’s side to move in the right direction. The current nuclear talks we have that started in June in Vienna are not even direct diplomatic talks and were put on hold until the outcome of Iran’s presidential elections were clear. US hesitance is making Grossi’s job impossible. The narrative pushed by so many in the US foreign policy space, namely that the big bad wolf Trump is still the one to blame, is slowly fading and reaching its expiry date, as Biden approaches the one-year mark of his presidency.

Let’s not forget that the US is the one that left and naturally is the one that has to restart the process, making the parties come back to the table. The US broke the deal. Biden can’t possibly be expecting that the other side will be the one extending its hand to beg for forgiveness. The US government is the one that ruined the multi-year, multilateral efforts of the complex dance that was required to get to something like the JCPOA – a deal that Republicans thought was never going to be possible because “you can’t negotiate with Iran”. You can, but you need skilled diplomats for that. Blinken is no Kerry. Judging from Blinken’s diplomacy moves with China and on other issues, I just don’t think that the Biden Administration has what it takes to get diplomacy back on track. If he follows the same line with Iran we won’t see another JCPOA in Biden’s term. Several weeks ago, Biden said that there are other options with Iran if diplomacy fails, in a White House meeting with Israel’s new prime minister Bennett. I don’t think that anyone in the foreign policy space buys that Biden would launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But I don’t think that team Biden can get to a diplomatic agreement either. Biden and Blinken are still stuck in the 2000, the time when others would approach the US no matter what, irrespective of whose fault it was. “You will do as I say” has never worked in the history of US foreign policy. That’s just not going to happen with Iran and the JCPOA. To expect otherwise is unreasonable. The whole “Trump did it” line is slowly and surely reaching its expiry date – as with anything else on the domestic and foreign policy plane. Biden needs to get his act together. The clock is ticking.

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Elections represent an opportunity for stability and unity in Libya

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With just over 100 days until landmark elections in Libya, political leaders must join forces to ensure the vote is free, fair and inclusive, the UN envoy for the country told the Security Council on Friday. 

Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) briefed ambassadors on developments ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections due to take place on 24 December. 

They were agreed under a political roadmap stemming from the historic October 2020 ceasefire between Libya’s rival authorities, and the establishment of a Government of National Unity (GNU) earlier this year. 

At the crossroads 

“Libya is at a crossroads where positive or negative outcomes are equally possible,” said Mr. Kubiš.  “With the elections there is an opportunity for Libya to move gradually and convincingly into a more stable, representative and civilian track.” 

He reported that the House of Representatives has adopted a law on the presidential election, while legislation for the parliamentary election is being finalized and could be considered and approved within the coming weeks.  

Although the High National Election Commission (HNEC) has received the presidential election law, another body, the High State Council, complained that it had been adopted without consultation. 

Foreign fighter threat 

The HNEC chairman has said it will be ready to start implementation once the laws are received, and will do everything possible to meet the 24 December deadline. 

“Thus, it is for the High National Election Commission to establish a clear electoral calendar to lead the country to the elections, with support of the international community, for the efforts of the Government of National Unity, all the respective authorities and institutions to deliver as free and fair, inclusive and credible elections as possible under the demanding and challenging conditions and constraints,” said Mr. Kubiš.  

“The international community could help create more conducive conditions for this by facilitating the start of a gradual withdrawal of foreign elements from Libya without delay.” 

Young voters eager 

The UN envoy also called for countries and regional organizations to provide electoral observers to help ensure the integrity and credibility of the process, as well as acceptance of the results. 

He also welcomed progress so far, including in updating the voter registry and the launch of a register for eligible voters outside the country. 

So far, more than 2.8 million Libyans have registered to vote, 40 per cent of whom are women.  Additionally, more than half a million new voters will also be casting their ballots. 

“Most of the newly registered are under 30, a clear testament to the young generation’s eagerness to take part in determining the fate of their country through a democratic process. The Libyan authorities and leaders must not let them down,” said Mr. Kubiš. 

He stressed that the international community also has a responsibility to support the positive developments in Libya, and to stand firm against attempts at derailment.  

“Not holding the elections could gravely deteriorate the situation in the country, could lead to division and conflict,” he warned.  “I urge the Libyan actors to join forces and ensure inclusive, free, fair parliamentary and presidential elections, which are to be seen as the essential step in further stabilizing and uniting Libya.”

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