Despite UN Special Envoy’s Resignation, No Sign Libya Moving Toward Elections

Bathily repeated warnings of disintegration if elections aren’t held

The recent resignation of UN Special Representative of the Secretary General in Libya, Abdoulay Bathily, came as he again repeated warnings about the lack of political will and good faith among major players. Signs are that this isn’t changing after his departure.

Bathily made several comments about the need for major parties to work together on an election, which has been repeatedly delayed since December of 2021. He also warned that foreign backers of the various factions have undermined the UN process by engaging in parallel efforts that divert the process.

There have been occasional signs of possible steps forward, including the recent formation of a “new unified government” specifically designed to oversee elections. However, even this meeting was held in Cairo at the behest of the Arab League’s Secretary General, once again pointing to foreign backers controlling the process.

This new government is composed of the president of the Presidential Council Mohamed Menfi, the head of Tripoli’s High State Council Mohamed Takala, and the speaker of the Benghazi parliament Aguila Saleh.

The first two are forever arguing over who exerts more control over the capital city of Tripoli, while the Benghazi parliament’s authority is always questionable, since Gen. Khalifa Hafter retains broad sway over the east and has designs for national dominance.

Bathily had warned Libya faces a risk of disintegration if elections aren’t held, and years of delay seem set to continue, with the new government at most a talking point to provide cover to the next rounds of delay.

Bathily cautioned that people “are frustrated at the status quo,” and faulted security actors who constantly try to carve out areas of advantage in Tripoli.

It is little wonder, then, that Bathily finally decided his warnings weren’t doing much good and just quit outright. Unfortunately, despite expressions of surprise at his departure, things seem set to continue as they have been.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.