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African-European Tension Over UN Envoy for Libya Post

African-European Tension Over UN Envoy for Libya Post

Friday, 18 October, 2019 - 08:15
UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame (Reuters)
Cairo- Jamal Jawhar

Political parties in Libya have been disagreeing over UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame’s mission in the country.

Meanwhile, three African member states of the Security Council tried unsuccessfully on Wednesday to appoint a joint African Union-United Nations envoy for Libya.

This step to replace Salame was, however, refused by Westerners, which was considered by MP Mohammed Bashir Alvers in his comments to Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday, “conclusive evidence that the conflict in Libya is international.”

The Libyan MP said Europeans “don’t want to share with the AU their attempts to resolve the Libyan crisis.”

He said after being absent for too long now, “AU’s participation and possible success is considered a failure for Europeans only endeavors through their representative who only launches many initiatives that come in line with the interests of the countries supporting him.”

According to AFP, diplomats said the Africans raised the issue during closed consultations Wednesday, but there was no support in the 15-member council, with several members saying it wasn’t the time to “change horses in midstream.”

Other diplomats told AFP that Russia and China “do not tend to any of the positions.” China has called for “harmony" in the council, one said, while other countries suggested discussing this matter later.

Other diplomats also pointed out that Africa’s issue “did not receive the required consensus” to be discussed.

This issue requires UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “take necessary measures to ensure the effective participation of the African Union to resolve the Libyan crisis.”

In this context, one diplomat affirmed that Salame “reports to the AU every 15 days, but he hasn’t received a response, not even once.”

Another diplomatic source said that since the beginning of the conflict in Libya, the AU has been “absent” and does not exist in Libya while it has representatives in neighboring Tunisia only.

They said this reflects Westerners’ lack of understanding of the African request.

South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire, and Equatorial Guinea were following up on decisions by the AU High-Level Committee on Libya on July 8 and the AU Peace and Security Council on Sept. 27 in New York calling for a joint envoy, according to AFP.

The President of Niger called for appointing a joint AU-UN envoy to Libya from an African country because Libya is in Africa and its crisis cannot be resolved if the AU is kept marginalized.

Salame told the council last month he had launched "an intensive campaign" for an international conference to deliver a message that Marshal Khalifa Haftar's offensive must end.

A conference had been scheduled in Berlin in October to try to persuade countries to enforce an arms embargo and stop supplying weapons to the warring parties and move toward a political settlement and elections, but it has reportedly been postponed.

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