A deal on state spending can kickstart Libya’s political process

19 May 2022 01:55 PM

EXPERT COMMENT

A renewed governance split in Libya is blocking progress on agreeing an electoral framework. Ending the standoff over state spending could break the impasse.

The failure to hold scheduled elections in December 2021 derailed Libya’s political roadmap, heightening animosity between the Government of National Unity (GNU) – the country’s first unified government since 2014 – and the House of Representatives, its chronically divided parliament. The House of Representatives appointed a new government in February, the Government of National Stability (GNS), and says that the GNU must go. The GNU, however, says it will only leave following elections.

This impasse has dragged on, but reached a flashpoint on the evening of 16 May, as the designated prime minister of the GNS, Fathi Bashagha, entered Tripoli in an attempt to assume office and operate from the capital. The move sparked clashes between armed groups, resulting in Bashagha’s negotiated exit from Tripoli.

Aside from these developments on the security front, the renewed governance split is triggering familiar patterns of competition over resources. Without a budget law passed by the House of Representatives, the GNU is spending on the legal formula of one twelfth, meaning it is spending per month what was authorized in the most recent budget.

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