On 27 April 2020, Khalifa Haftar declared on television that he accepted the “popular mandate” of the Libyan people to abandon the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement and “take control” of Libya. Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) condemns this declaration as illegitimate and one which subverts and undermines the rule of law and human rights values in Libya. “Any attempt to replace elected institutions by a unilateral declaration of power does not constitute a ‘popular mandate’ and must be recognised as illegitimate,” said LFJL Director Elham Saudi.
A fundamental characteristic of a civil state founded on the rule of law and constitutional values is the separation of the state’s powers. At this sensitive point in Libya’s transition, Haftar’s declaration sets an alarming precedent for the disregard of the separation of powers and fails to reflect the Libyan people’s hopes for a civilian governing framework that was established through Libya’s Constitutional Declaration and the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement.
LFJL further observes with significant concern the unprecedented escalations of violence in western Libya including the indiscriminate shelling of residential neighbourhoods and the targeting of medical facilities. “How key states in the international community react to this development, which is an attempt at eroding Libya’s democratic, political and legal institutions in favour of a military state, will be its biggest test to date and one which provides a final opportunity to support a genuine political solution based on human rights and the rule of law over appeasement and expediency,” added Saudi.