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Guterres Urges Security Council to Unify Stance amid US-Russian Differences over Libya

Guterres Urges Security Council to Unify Stance amid US-Russian Differences over Libya

Saturday, 29 January, 2022 - 09:15
Stephanie Williams upon her arrival in the southern Libyan city of Sebha earlier this week. (Twitter account of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Libya)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged on Friday the members of the Security Council to unify their stance over extending the mandate of the UN mission in Libya (UNSMIL), which ends Jan. 31, following a disagreement between the US and Russia.

Moscow has demanded the UN secretary general’s special advisor on Libya, American Stephanie Williams, be replaced.

The Security Council was scheduled to vote Thursday on a draft resolution prepared by Britain to extend UNSMIL’s mission until Sept. 15, after the text was amended more than once in an attempt to overcome the disagreement on many issues, including the position on the presidential and legislative elections and the mandate granted to the UN mission.

The Russian side insisted on appointing a special envoy to succeed Slovakian Jan Kubis, who resigned last November, but differences within the Council prompted Guterres to name Williams as a special advisor, but who is assuming the duties of the envoy.

Russia was purportedly ready to exercise its veto right to obstruct the adoption of the resolution and to submit an alternative draft-resolution, calling on the Secretary-General to appoint a new special envoy “without delay” and limit the mandate to three months, which prompted Britain to postpone the voting session to make room for further negotiations.

Divisions between UN members are not a “good signal” to Libyans and “will not help Stephanie Williams” in her current role, a diplomatic source said.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, had demanded the appointment of a new mediator in Libya, saying: “It’s important that the Secretary-General present a candidate for this position as soon as possible… The UN envoy must have sufficient experience in the framework of a mandate decided by the Security Council.”

He added: “Unfortunately, we do not have such a person at the head of the mission at the moment.”

In comments during his daily press briefing, UN Secretary General Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres was implementing the mandate granted to him by the Security Council, calling on the Council members to show “unity and clarity.”

Guterres is currently working closely with members of the Security Council in order to achieve the interests of the UN Mission in Libya as well as the interests of the Libyans, Dujarric emphasized.

He continued: “The Secretary-General is extremely grateful for all the work that Stephanie Williams has done in her previous capacity... and what she continues to do on the Libyan file as special advisor. She’s done a very, very good job in [the] face of a very difficult situation.”

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