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‘Rejuvenation of Libyan patriotism’ deserves full Security Council support, says UN mission chief

Stephanie Williams, the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), told the 15-member organ that intra-Libyan dialogues – facilitated by the Mission – have produced “tangible results”.

Those include a ceasefire agreement in October between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, a roadmap for an interim executive authority ahead of elections on 24 December, and long-overdue economic reforms – but not, however, the exit of foreign fighters and mercenaries before a deadline that expired on 23 January.

Owning their destiny

“Libyans are keen to turn the page, to reclaim Libyan sovereignty and ownership of their destiny as a people after many years of relentless armed conflict, societal fragmentation and crippling institutional division”, Ms. Williams told the Council, meeting via video-teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This rejuvenation of Libyan patriotism must be sustained, harnessed and supported by this Council to open a new path for Libya towards democracy, respect for human rights, accountability and justice under the rule of law”, she said.

New resolution plea

More specifically, the Special Representative said that the Council should signal its clear support for the new temporary Libyan unified government through a resolution that would also call for the dissolution of “all existing parallel executive entities” around the vast North African country.

Ms. Williams briefed the Council ahead of a decisive round of intra-Libyan talks in Geneva that are expected to result in the creation of the new government – and before she hands over the reins of the Mission to her successor, Ján Kubiš, who was appointed Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Libya earlier this month.

Oil-rich Libya has been divided since the overthrow of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with bloody conflict between the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in the west, and the Libyan National Army in the east.

Major breakthroughs

An agreement in Geneva earlier this month among members of a key committee of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum over an interim political leadership deal marked a major breakthrough in the drawn-out quest for peace.

Despite progress on the political front, Ms. Williams expressed concern at ongoing fortifications and defensive positions created by General Haftar’s forces at the Gardabiya air base in the strategic oil port city of Sitre.

She called on the Government of National Accord and the Libyan Armed Forces to fully implement the ceasefire agreement – and echoed the Secretary-General’s appeal for all regional and international actors to respect its provisions, including by speeding up the departure of an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters.

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