Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, who leads the UN-brokered transitional government based in Tripoli, says conditions in the conflict-ridden country are too unstable to hold elections in coming months.
“You cannot vote with instability in the streets ... it is necessary that everyone accepts the result of the ballot. We need shared rules,” Seraj said in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
The premier also cast doubts on a French-led push for a vote in December, which purportedly aims to end years of turmoil across the country. “We had talked about elections in Paris, but the constitutional document, which is ready but not approved, must first be voted on,” the premier added.
In May, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a conference where rival Libyan factions agreed to work with the United Nations for a national election by December 10.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Seraj said factions would need to agree on a constitution before any vote is held.
“Unfortunately, the parliament of Tobruk has not yet examined it. Without the constitution, how can one go to a national vote?”
Seraj's Government of National Accord (GNA) has sought to unify powerful factions, but despite support from the UN, it has struggled to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016.
A rival administration based in Libya's remote east, with which military commander Khalifa Haftar is allied, refuses to recognize Seraj's government.
Seraj has close relations with Italy. His main rival, military commander Khalifa Haftar, is aligned with a government based in the east and is seen as closer to France.
Libya slid into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. France was at the forefront of airstrikes carried out along with the United States and others in the NATO operation.
Armed groups have vowed to resume hostilities if talks to be hosted by UN Special Envoy Ghassan Salame do not result in a lasting settlement.
In recent years, the country has also become a base for Takfiri Daesh terrorist group and other extremists and a departure point for African migrants seeking to enter Europe.