Libya Local Elections (ongoing in various places) and National Elections (overdue)

A protest against dictator Muamar Ghaddafi in Bayda, Libya, in July 2011. Photo credit: Wikimedia/ليبي صح (CC0 1.0)

Freedom House Rating

Not Free
Government Type
In Transition
6.9 million
Local Elections
Ongoing in various places
Presidential Election

Postponed indefinitely
Presidential Election
June/July 2021 (due)
Partial Local Elections
March and April 2019
Parliamentary Elections
June 25, 2014

Various Libyan cities and municipalities are holding local elections. Furthermore, national elections are overdue and have been postponed indefinitely due to the political crisis and civil war.

Political Context

In 2011, an uprising deposed longtime dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi. Since then, Libya has been in crisis, and is currently in a state of civil war. Two rival (unelected) governments control different parts of the country. The United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), based in Tripoli, controls the country’s west. Its leader is Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. al_Sarraj has asked the UN for support to hold elections.

Warlord Khalifa Haftar‘s Libya National Army (LNA), based in Benghazi, controls the east and south. 

The House of Representatives (HoR), elected in June 2014, is based in Tobruk in the east. It opposes the GNA, and although it theoretically appointed Haftar as head of the LNA, in practice it exerts little if any control over the LNA.

In potentially good news, the factions announced a ceasefire in August 2020, and stated a desire to hold elections within 18 months. In September, negotiators from both sides agreed to proposed elections in December 2021. Nonetheless, it is unclear when the elections will actually happen.

Protests Gathering Momentum

In the last few months, a protest movement has been growing. Citizens are demanding elections, among other things. For example, a new protest group called Harak Al-Shabab 23/08 organized demonstrations in August in several cities (and faced a crackdown). Their demands included conducting elections, and better governance and accountability in general. Other groups have demonstrated for the ouster of both Haftar and the GNA. As a result, Haftar’s government submitted its resignation in September, and al-Sarraj has indicated that his government will resign as well.

Most recently, a group of 29 mayors from around the country called for elections by February 2021.

Ongoing Local Elections

However, various cities have been holding local elections, following the demands of citizens.

Geopolitical Context

Russia and Turkey, which each back a different faction, took the lead on January 2020 ceasefire negotiations. However, some have criticized their handling of the situation and believe that they are impeding, rather than encouraging, progress.

Curated News and Analysis

Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (October 5, 2020): Turkey and Russia’s deepening roles in Libya complicate peace efforts

Rabia Golden, Libya Observer (October 4, 2020): Over 30 municipalities are due for council elections before the end of this year

Shahed Ezaydi, openDemocracy (September 29, 2020): What exactly is happening in Libya?

Al Jazeera (September 14, 2020): Libya’s eastern-based government resigns amid protests

AP (September 24, 2020): Libyan leader asks for UN support in elections

Edward Yeranian, VOA (September 17, 2020): Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister ‘Ready to Step Down’ if New Leader Chosen

Jeffrey Feltman, Brookings Institution (September 11, 2020): Washington can seize a pinprick of light in Libya

Kali Robinson, Council on Foreign Relations (June 18, 2020): Who’s Who in Libya’s War?

The Economist (January 23, 2020): Khalifa Haftar, the Libyan warlord, is not interested in compromise

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here

Updated October 7, 2020

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