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UN envoy urges Libyan leaders to place national above personal interests

Mr Bathily said the presence of armed actors and heavy weaponry in Libya’s capital is of strong concern.

• April 17, 2024
United Nations
United Nations

UN Special Representative to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, has urged the leaders of the country to place national interest above personal interest, lamenting the gaps in bridging the former.

According to him, efforts to foster dialogue and address the concerns of Libyan politicians are being met with stubborn resistance, unreasonable expectations and indifference.

Mr Bathily said this while briefing journalists at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday after his meeting with the Security Council.

The UN envoy told the Security Council that since the end of 2022, UN-led efforts to resolve Libya’s political crisis had encountered national and regional pushbacks, “revealing an intentional defiance to engage in earnest and a tenacity to perpetually delay elections”.

The, envoy, however, confirmed reports that he had submitted his resignation to the secretary-general.

He told ambassadors earlier that “with a deep sense of disappointment, it is disheartening to witness individuals in positions of power putting their personal interests above the needs of their country.’

He emphasised the necessity for Libyan leaders to prioritise national interests over personal ones, urging them to reach a political settlement through negotiations and compromise.

“We cannot allow the aspirations of 2.8 million registered Libyan voters to be overshadowed by the narrow interests of a few,” he added.

Mr Bathily told ambassadors that five key Libyan stakeholders had not budged from their preconditions to attend the talks and gave their names as Mohamed Takala, President of the High Council of State; Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, Government of National Unity Prime Minister; and Agila Saleh, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Others included Gen. Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the LNA; and Mohamed al-Menfi, President of the Presidential Council.

“Despite continuous and extensive engagement with the main institutional actors, their persistent positions are significantly impeding efforts to advance the political process,” Bathily said.

He also noted that the complexities were exacerbated by an “apparent agreement” between  al-Menfi, Saleh and Takala, according to a joint statement following a trilateral meeting in March in Cairo, with which the UN was not associated.

“My subsequent discussions with the leaders who participated in the Cairo meeting revealed diverging interpretations of, and lack of, details on its outcome. There is also lack of buy-in among those Libyan leaders who were not part of the meeting,” he said.

On the economic front, Bathily, who also heads the UN Support Mission in Libya, highlighted a worsening economic situation and warnings by the Central Bank of an impending liquidity crisis.

He informed ambassadors of a temporary surcharge on official foreign currency exchange, combined with the declining value of the Libyan dinar and restricted access to foreign currencies, which has fuelled public anger amid growing concerns over rising prices for essential goods and services.

“It is imperative for Libyan authorities to address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of persistent harmful economic and financial practices,” the UN envoy said, calling on the authorities to promptly agree to a national budget and better manage state resources.

Mr Bathily also highlighted a tense security situation in several parts of the country, including major cities like Tripoli and Misrata.

“The presence of armed actors and heavy weaponry in Libya’s capital is of strong concern as it constitutes a significant threat to the safety of the civilian population,” he warned, emphasising that any escalation of tensions in Libya would exacerbate instability not only in Chad, Niger, and Sudan but also across the wider region of the Sahel.

He also voiced concern over the continuing plight of migrants as well as a sharp rise in abductions, disappearances, and arbitrary arrests against a backdrop of entrenched impunity that had undermined fundamental freedoms.

(NAN) 

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