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UN reaches deal to name new Libya envoy, coordinator: diplomats

The council will vote to renew the UN mission in Libya next week [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 September, 2020

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The UN Security Council will vote on a draft resolution next week, but there has been disagreement between member states over who will be named as special envoy.

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Libya, UN
After more than six months of squabbling, the UN Security Council has agreed to name a new special envoy for Libya and a "coordinator" who will be second in command, diplomats said on Friday.

The Council will vote early next week on a draft resolution that would renew the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) until September 15, 2021 and spell out the leadership structure.

The draft, seen by AFP, says the Council had decided "UNSMIL should be led by a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General... with a particular focus on good offices and mediation with Libyan and international actors to end the conflict".

Under the envoy's authority, "an UNSMIL Coordinator shall be in charge of UNSMIL's day-to-day operations and management" of its roughly 200 staff, the text says.

The Council will ask Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to "appoint his Special Envoy without delay", according to the document.

UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame stepped down in March for health reasons, and bickering between the United States and its partners on how the role should be defined has stalled naming a successor.

Guterres had tapped former Algerian foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra, but Washington nixed his nomination for reasons that were not made public.

The UN chief then turned to former Ghanaian minister Hanna Serwaa Tetteh but the US again rejected it, asking that the post be split in two - a political envoy and a boss for the UN mission, as is the situation for Cyprus or Western Sahara.

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Washington pushed for former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to be the next special envoy but the other 14 Council members criticized that choice, diplomats said.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and an eastern administration led by strongman Khalifa Haftar are vying for power against a backdrop of dozens of local conflicts.

The UN mission in Libya has been run since Salame's resignation by his deputy, American diplomat Stephanie Williams. She is due to leave at month's end.

In a letter to Guterres earlier this month, the GNA said it supported the US solution of splitting the mission leadership in two, with an envoy and a coordinator.

The proposed resolution, drafted by Britain, asks Guterres to "assess the steps required to reach a lasting ceasefire" over the next two months, and to make recommendations for how the UN can take part in "scalable ceasefire support.".

The text asks for "full compliance" by all UN member states with an arms embargo put in place in 2011, which has been repeatedly breached.

It also asks countries to end "all support" for armed mercenaries in the war-wracked country and their immediate withdrawal, as well as no further foreign intervention.

Turkey and Qatar have backed the GNA, while the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia support Haftar.

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