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UN Experts Accuse Mercenaries of Impeding Libya Elections

UN Experts Accuse Mercenaries of Impeding Libya Elections

Sunday, 1 August, 2021 - 08:45
The departure of foreign fighters from the country is a “vital precondition” for the peaceful staging of elections scheduled for December, UN experts said. (Reuters file photo)

UN experts called for all mercenaries and mercenary-related private contractors to leave Libya, saying their departure is long overdue and is a vital precondition to peaceful elections scheduled for later this year.

“Nine months after the ceasefire agreement calling for the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, mercenaries and private military and security contractors continue to operate in the country,” said the chair of the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries, Jelena Aparac.

The continued recruitment and presence of mercenaries in Libya are impeding “progress in the peace process” and an obstacle to upcoming elections, independent UN human rights experts said on Friday.

Some of the highly armed and well-trained private contractors operating in the country, hailing from Russia, Syria, Sudan, and Chad, meet the criteria for mercenaries, according to the Working Group.

In addition to the dangers they pose within Libya, the independent experts warned that they could also threaten the security and stability of other nations in the region.

The UN experts stressed that these mercenary and mercenary-related actors must leave immediately and that there must be an immediate end to the transfer of military weapons and supplies into Libya.

“We appeal to the international community to take concrete steps to aid this process,” Aparac said.

“If elections are to be held in December 2021 as scheduled, Libyans should be able to undertake that process in a safe and secure environment, and the presence of these actors impedes that,” she added.

In June of last year, the Working Group warned that Libya’s reliance on mercenaries and related actors since 2019 had contributed to an escalation of conflict, undermined the peace process, and breached the UN Security Council’s existing arms embargo.

At that time, they urged governments to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and humanitarian law violations.

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