On 16 December 2021, an official with Libya’s electoral commission stated that it is not possible to hold the presidential election as currently scheduled for 24 December. The comment followed an incident during the evening of 15 December in which gunmen launched an assault and took control of the headquarters of the National Unity Government and Ministry of Defense buildings in the capital Tripoli. The Presidential Guard withdrew from the area, avoiding confrontation. The militia members, reported to be from the city of Misrata and elsewhere in western Libya, oppose the decision to allow Khalifa Haftar and Saif al-Islam Gaddafi — the son of former President Mu’ammar Gaddafi — to run for presidentcontest in the president election. The armed groups were also seeking a postponement of the upcoming presidential election. No injuries were reported duer to the attack, and no hostages appear to have been taken. It is not clear if the buildings were occupied by anyone other than security personnel who retreated at the time.

Analyst Comment: It is unknown whether unclear if the reason for the electoral commission official’s statement regarding the election was made in relation to the militia takeover of the National Unity Government headquarters. There are other existing issues thatwhich would have likely resulted in the postponement of the upcoming presidential election. The country’s electoral commission has not released a list of presidential candidates due to legal challenges regarding the candidacies of several individuals — including Saif Gaddafi and Khalifa Haftar. Previously, gunmen raided the Electoral Administration Office in Tripoli and several nearby towns on 1 December and stole voter cards in a likely effort to halt the election. Numerous other disagreements exist between western Libya’s politicians and the country’s eastern parliament about the election process, which have also have yet to be resolved.