With the Presidential election scheduled for December, diplomat Aref Ali Nayed kicks off his campaign.
A close associate of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, Aref Ali Nayed has had ambitions for several years to become Libyan Head of State. President of the Ihya Libya (Reviving Libya) Movement, he first ran for office in 2017, before reaffirming his ambition following the Paris Agreements in 2018. In light of the efforts to unify the institutions in the country, the Ihya Libya Movement believes that the best way to do so is by holding direct Presidential and Parliamentary Elections on their scheduled date on December 24, 2021. But the December 24 vote seems more than uncertain, while Aref Ali Nayed is keen to ensure that it is held on time. For its part, the government of Abdel Hamid al-Dbaiba believes that the time frame for holding the elections is too short, while the Head of the House of Representatives confirms the readiness of Parliament, with its constitutional base, for the elections.
Faced with his future competitors, Aref Ali Nayed will be able to use his contacts. A theologian by training, he relies on his think tanks, the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS) and Kalam Research and Media (KRM), based in Tripoli and Dubai respectively in addition to regional and global bureaus. He is also very closely connected to the United Arab Emirates, supporter of Khalifa Haftar, where he was Libya’s Ambassador from 2011 to 2016. At the local level, he can count on his base in the East, where he was born, and on two of the country’s largest tribes in the West, Wirfalla then Tarhouna. His late father was an influential Sheikh of the Wirfalla tribe, while his mother is a member of the Tarhouna tribe.
Ahead of the Berlin Conference (II) on Libya on June 23, headed by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Aref Ali Nayed tells Jeune Afrique his expectations and his vision of the country’s crisis exit plan.
What do you expect from the second Berlin Conference on Libya, organized on June 23 under the auspices of the United Nations?
We at the Ihya Libya Movement expect and hope that the Berlin II conference, will reaffirm the Berlin I conference outputs. It is an important opportunity to check real progress on all the outputs of the first conference, on all the various tracks established in Berlin I. We also expect Berlin II to reaffirm the latest UN Security Council resolutions and communiques regarding Libya.
What do you think of the French proposal for the withdrawal of foreign forces? This does not mention the withdrawal of Syrian forces that took part in the fighting on the side of Khalifa Haftar. Is the acceptance of a ceasefire between the two rival camps consistent?
The French proposal is a much appreciated, professional, and fair assessment of all forces on the ground, regular and mercenary. It also intelligently organizes and tabulates the balanced sequential existing of all forces, regular and mercenary, from all Libyan territories.
What conclusions do you draw from the four months in office of the government of national unity?
Despite the corruption charges that marred its very inception, many desperate Libyans optimistically viewed this government as a temporary mechanism for national unification and diligent preparation for direct Presidential and Parliamentarian Elections on December 24th 2021. Unfortunately, the new government has failed many positive expectations in the following ways: 1. Acting beyond its mandate by reaffirming and signing foreign treaties and agreements. 2. Making inflammatory remarks regarding Benghazi. 3. Undermining multiple Ministers by installing cronies as Undersecretaries and Media Coordinators to contain those Ministers. 4. Dismantling all public Media capacities and putting them under the exclusive control of a terror-supporting Islamist boss. 5. Holding military parades that included known terrorists. 6. Failing to act to stop militia terror attacks by Zawiyah militias whose leaders it actually previously honored. Such serious violations deeply disappoint many Libyans, and make the demands for abiding by the date of direct Presidential and Parliamentarian Elections even more urgent. This government must NOT be allowed to procrastinate a single day beyond the expiry of its legitimacy on December 24th 2021.
The process of the reunification of institutions is sluggish. What do you think are the reasons for this blockage? And what would be the solutions to be proposed in order to be able to implement it?
It is very clear that the majority of the ruling political class has become very comfortable with the vast wealth and power that it has accumulated over the past decade. Despite all the divisions, there is unity amongst the corrupt, across the country. This unacceptable situation can only be rectified through the direct will of the Libyan people being respected in direct Presidential and Parliamentarian Elections. A duly and directly elected President and Parliament will be able to affect true and clean unification of all Libyan institutions. Unity should not be a prerequisite for the Elections, because it will actually be the result of those Elections.
Do you think that the elections can take place in December?
Yes, and they MUST! After a decade of dispossession and marginalization, the vast majority of Libyans need to choose their own leadership and representative. The ‘tyranny of the minority’ that has made Libya into a failed state and an ATM of Islamists across the region, must end. We are encouraged by the international consensus that we witness for the first time on the imperative of Presidential and Parliamentarian elections on time. We are also encouraged by the last two resolutions of the Security Council, and which make Elections imposable under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
Are you in favor of a direct or indirect election?
We, at Ihya Libya, are in favor of direct Presidential and Parliamentarian Elections. We are supported in this demand by a dozen other political movements and blocs, who represent the views of the vast majority of Libyans. We will be meeting in Benghazi tomorrow to make that national demand in a single loud and clear voice.
You are being announced as a candidate for the presidential election. What are your ambitions for the country?
I first announced my candidacy for Presidential Elections when they were first announced in 2017, and reaffirmed it after the Paris Accords of 2018. Now that there is a local and international consensus on holding the Presidential Elections on December 24th 2020, I have again reaffirmed my intention to run for Libya’s Presidency. My ambitions for Libya are the ambitions of over seventy young female and male Libyan technocrats and experts who have come together at the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS.ly) to formulate a comprehensive Vision 2030 for Libya (see ihyalibya.com for details). Will revive Libya together, according to that Ihya Libya Vision 2030.
What relationship do you have with Khalifa Haftar?
As a matter of fundamental principle, I have always supported Libya’s duly elected Parliament from its very inception in 2014, and supported all institutions stemming from it. Therefore, I have also systematically and diligently supported the legitimate Libyan Government, headed by Mr. Abdulla al-Thinni, and the legitimate Libyan National Army, headed by Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar. As Ambassador of Libya), as National Security Advisor to the PM, and as Envoy of the Head of Libya’s Parliament, I have always strived to discharge my national duties to the fullest. I have always believed in institutions and supported institutions the legitimacy of which is based on free and fair direct Elections.
What is its future of the process of ending the crisis according to you?
It is existential and vital that Libyans refresh their sovereignty and the legitimacy of their institutions through direct Presidential and Parliamentarian Elections, on time, on December 24th 2021. That is the only genuine way of ending our current crisis, which is an artificial crisis, caused by the ‘tyranny of the minority’ from which Libya has been suffering for the past decade. A duly elected President and a duly elected Parliament, held responsible by an independent judiciary and independent media, can transform Libya into a unified, sovereign, and thriving country. We have a clear Vision for that, and we feel confident of our chances in the upcoming election.