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Tribal endorsements at the helm of Libya's politics as polls near

Interim head of Libya's government Ramadan Abu Jnah speaks during a press conference on the upcoming December 24 elections, in the capital Tripoli on December 12, 2021.   -  
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MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP or licensors


Despite the postponement of Libya's both presidential and parliamentary elections which many hoped will end a long chapter of civil war, another set of votes were taking place across the country, by Libya’s tribes.

The tribes' influence and strength have exponentially grown over the years since the 2011 revolution.

"Tribes took over the political scene and went out of control after 2011 because it found no state to stop it, or constrain it. The tribe then placed its members in prominent positions in the state, and these became hostages to the tribes’ wishes and its influence," said a political activist and analyst, and lecturer at Benghazi University Allam Al-Fallah.

Even as the country moves towards turning a new leaf, Libyan tribes expect to maintain their political influence, by deciding the fate of candidates: excluding some, and supporting others.

"Al-Jawazi tribe, like with other tribes, are holding meetings to look at the list of candidates and decide who is good and competent, so we support them into the right role, to serve the homeland and the nation," said Haj Mansour Al-Jazwi, the leader of Al-Jazwi tribe in Benghazi.

Abdelkareem AlJazwi, who is running for a seat in the parliament to represent Benghazi, says three other candidates stepped down after tribal deliberations.

"I am not a tribal candidate, but the tribe now plays a very important role and is more developed and mature, so it pushes forward its sons whom it sees as capable," said Abdelkareem Al-Jazwi, a legislative candidate.

But many see this as a dangerous role for tribes to play, as it undermines the state’s unity and stability.

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