Political adversaries are alleging Libya’s recently-elected provisional PM offered delegates up to $500,000 for their votes in the country’s UN-led peace talks last month.
Rabat — A prominent political challenger is accusing Libyan Interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah of buying votes in the country’s provisional elections last month, calling into question the legitimacy of ongoing regional peace processes.
According to allegations, surrogates bribed multiple participants in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) up to $500,000 to vote for Dbeibah during a set of UN-led peace talks in Tunisia in February.
The United Nations spearheaded the LPDF in November, seeking to inaugurate a unified authority in a country divided by rival eastern and western-based governments.
The forum convened in Tunis on February 5 to elect a unified provisional government, which will serve until the permanent national elections anticipated for December 2021.
Dbeibah’s ticket won the interim elections by a margin of five votes: The LPDF selected eastern-backed Mohamed Al-Menfi as Chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council alongside western-backed Dbeibah for the Prime Minister seat.
In light of the public bribery allegations against Dbeibah, UN Special Envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams demanded a comprehensive investigation into the legitimacy of the accusations.
UN experts found that two participants in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s February convention “offered bribes between $150,000 to $200,000 to at least three LPDF participants if they committed to vote for Dbeibah as Prime Minister,” according to a report set to be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) later this month.
The findings claim that one peace talks participant “erupted in anger in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Tunis on hearing that some participants may have received up to $500,000 for their Dbeibah vote, whereas he had only received $200,000.”
Aguila Saleh, the eastern-backed speaker of Parliament who observers expect to run against Dbeibah for the permanent PM seat, has been vocal about the bribery allegations.
“If it is proven that votes were bought, this is a crime that cannot be ignored and its perpetrator cannot be allowed to benefit from it,” Saleh said.
Dbeibah’s office continues to deny all allegations of wrongdoing and has accused political adversaries of “undermining the process of forming a government and obstructing the process of approving it by spreading rumors and false reports.”
“We assure the Libyan people that the first stage of the roadmap will soon be completed,” Dbeibah said, encouraging the country’s Parliament to approve the new interim government in a vote scheduled to take place on March 8.
Saleh has urged the government to postpone the Parliament session until a final decision is reached on February’s election results.
“I believe it is appropriate to delay the session until the [UN] report is made public,” Saleh explained, “and if it indeed says there were bribes, then those who committed them must be excluded.”
However, the United States Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has encouraged the Libyan Parliament to stick to the original date.
“Following consultations with international partners, UNSMIL and its partners strongly encourage the House of Representatives to meet as scheduled,” the agency stated. “This call comes in line with the increasing public demand for the urgent need to form a united government to address the most pressing needs and facilitate the holding of national elections in December 2021.”
It remains unclear whether the Parliament vote will take place on schedule.