UN: Libya is “very unstable” and elections are needed soon



UNITED NATIONS — Libya is mired in a constitutional and political stalemate that has sparked escalating clashes, a dire economic situation and protests across the country by frustrated citizens, a senior UN official said on Monday.

Under-Secretary-General Martha Pobee told the UN Security Council that the overall situation in Libya remained “very unstable”, with a tense security situation, “deeply troubling” displays of force and sporadic violence by militias engaged in political manoeuvres.

She also cited a dispute over the leadership of the National Oil Corporation and serious human rights concerns, including the arrest by armed groups of dozens of protesters who took part in July Day demonstrations decrying deteriorating conditions. of life and demanding progress in the elections.

Oil-rich Libya has been embroiled in conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has been divided by rival administrations, one by one. is backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter and a UN-backed administration in the western capital of Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.

In April 2019, Hifter and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive in an attempt to capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support for the UN-backed government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

An October 2020 ceasefire agreement led to an agreement on a transitional government in early February 2021 led by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and the scheduling of elections for December 24 last year.

But the elections did not take place. Dbeibah refused to step down and, in response, lawmakers in the east of the country elected a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, a former interior minister who now heads a separate administration outside the city of Sirte.

Pobee said a meeting in Geneva last month between the speaker of the country’s east-based parliament, Aguila Saleh, and Khaled al-Meshri, head of the Supreme State Council of the Government in Tripoli, overcame ” significant points of contention” in a 2017 proposal for a new constitution. But she said they could not agree on one major issue – the eligibility requirements for presidential candidates.

The Tripoli-based council insists on barring military personnel as well as people with dual nationality from running for the country’s highest office. This is apparently directed at Hifter, a divisive commander and US citizen who announced his candidacy in the canceled December election.

Pobee said UN special adviser on Libya Stephanie Williams stayed in touch with both sides “and urged them to bridge that gap.”

At a July 21 meeting of international partners in Istanbul, Williams reiterated that elections are “the only lasting solution that puts Libya firmly on the path to peace and stability,” Pobee said.

Pobee urged council members and Libya’s international partners to use their influence over rivals to agree elections as soon as possible.

Libya’s UN ambassador Taher El Sonni, who represents the government in Tripoli, said “the current situation could spiral out of control at any time unless radical solutions are found away from foreign interventions and maneuvers. policies”.

He accused the Security Council of doing nothing out of “paralysis” and internal divisions. He urged his members to listen to the Libyan protesters “and their irresistible desire to end this nightmare and get out of this endless cycle of conflict and crisis”.

The council meeting took place before the July 31 expiration of the mandate of the UN political mission in Libya, which includes a joint military commission monitoring the 2020 ceasefire.

The council resolution authorizing the mission called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, and Pobee said the monitors planned to meet in Sirte in early August to finalize a proposed plan for their withdrawal.

The council voted on April 29 to extend the UN mission for just three months due to Russia’s insistence that it have a new special representative before it has a longer mandate.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, told the council on Monday that Moscow recognized that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was trying to solve the problem. But he said that until a candidate satisfies Libyans, regional players and all council members, the best option is another three-month extension for the mission.


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