Libya: UN political affairs chief briefs Security Council

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The main powers in the UN Security Council displayed great caution Wednesday in a meeting regarding the political crisis in Libya, without taking sides - except for Russia - for one of the two rival prime ministers in that country.

"The Libyan executive is facing a crisis that could, if not resolved, lead to instability and parallel governments in the country," warned UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo at the opening of the session.

"The UN is making considerable efforts to resolve this crisis" in order to "agree on a constitutional basis for holding elections as soon as possible," she said, praising the work of the UN chief's special adviser, the American Stephanie Williams.

Otherwise, the risk is a new division of the institutions "and to cancel the gains of the last two years", warned Rosemary DiCarlo.

France also called for "preserving the gains", the United States recalled that Libyans wanted elections above all and Albania summarized the Western position by speaking of "caution", "patience" and "restraint".

On the African side, there was no choice between the two executives either.

"We have expressed our great concern about the political impasse and the possibility of reversing the gains made so far," said after the meeting the ambassador of Gabon, Michel Xavier Biang, who also spoke on behalf of Ghana and Kenya, all non-permanent members of the Security Council.

On behalf of Russia, Deputy Russian Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy, on the other hand, affirmed his country's support for the new executive chosen by the parliament sitting in the east of the country and rejected by Tripoli. "This is an important step towards resolving the crisis that has lasted too long," he said.

African envoy?

While the Security Council must extend the UN political mission in Libya at the end of April, a deadline that coincides with the end of a renewable contract for Stephanie Williams, the Russian diplomat urged the appointment of a new UN envoy "as soon as possible".

The UN has been without one since the resignation in November of Slovakian Jan Kubis.

The African Union will propose on Wednesday to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that an African be appointed envoy, AFP learned from diplomatic sources.

This position is supported in the Security Council by Russia and China, according to the same source speaking on condition of anonymity. Several names of personalities should be proposed to the head of the UN so that he stops his choice and submit it to the Security Council.

The demand to have an African as UN envoy in Libya is old. In 2020, Africa proposed an Algerian and a Ghanaian in quick succession, but these proposals were rejected by the United States.

Already plagued by divisions between competing institutions in the east and west, Libya has had two rival governments since the beginning of March, as it did between 2014 and 2021, when it was in the midst of a civil war after the overthrow of Gaddafi's regime.

A government formed by former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, approved by the parliament sitting in the east, is competing with the cabinet in place in the capital Tripoli, resulting from UN-sponsored political agreements and headed by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who refuses to cede power.

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