Libyan leaders must put national interests above their own, top envoy tells Security Council

Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily told the Security Council that since the end of 2022, UN-led efforts to resolve Libya’s political crisis have encountered national and regional pushbacks, “revealing an intentional defiance to engage in earnest and a tenacity to perpetually delay elections”.

Resignation tendered

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters outside the Council in New York following his briefing, the envoy confirmed reports that he had submitted his resignation to the Secretary-General.

He told ambassadors minutes earlier that “with a deep sense of disappointment, it is disheartening to witness individuals in positions of power putting their personal interests above the needs of their country.’

He emphasized the necessity for Libyan leaders to prioritize national interests over personal ones, urging them to reach a political settlement through negotiations and compromise.

“We cannot allow the aspirations of 2.8 million registered Libyan voters to be overshadowed by the narrow interests of a few,” he added.

Entrenched positions persist

Mr. Bathily told ambassadors the five key Libyan stakeholders – Mohamed Takala, President of the High Council of State; Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, Government of National Unity Prime Minister; Agila Saleh, Speaker of the House of Representatives; General Khalifa Haftar, Commander of the LNA; and Mohamed al-Menfi, President of the Presidential Council – have not budged from their preconditions to attend the talks.

“Despite continuous and extensive engagement with the main institutional actors, their persistent positions are significantly impeding efforts to advance the political process,” Mr. Bathily remarked.

He also noted that the complexities were exacerbated by an “apparent agreement” between the Mr. al-Menfi, Mr. Saleh and Mr. Takala, according to a joint statement following a trilateral meeting in March in Cairo, with which the UN was not associated.

“My subsequent discussions with the leaders who participated in the Cairo meeting revealed diverging interpretations of and lack of details on its outcome. There is also lack of buy-in among those Libyan leaders who were not part of the meeting,” he said.

Economy ‘severely strained’

On the economic front, Mr. Bathily, who also heads the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), highlighted a worsening economic situation and warnings by the Central Bank of an impending liquidity crisis.

He informed ambassadors of a temporary surcharge on official foreign currency exchange, combined with the declining value of the Libyan dinar and restricted access to foreign currencies, which has fuelled public anger amid growing concerns over rising prices for essential goods and services.

“It is imperative for Libyan authorities to address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of persistent harmful economic and financial practices,” the UN envoy said, calling on the authorities to promptly agree a national budget and better manage State resources.

Tense security situation

Mr. Bathily also highlighted a tense security situation in several parts of the country, including major cities like Tripoli and Misrata.

“The presence of armed actors and heavy weaponry in Libya’s capital is of strong concern as it constitutes a significant threat to the safety of the civilian population,” he warned, emphasizing that any escalation of tensions in Libya would exacerbate instability not only in Chad, Niger, and Sudan but also across the wider region of the Sahel.

He also voiced concern over the continuing plight of migrants as well as a sharp rise in abductions, disappearances, and arbitrary arrests against a backdrop of entrenched impunity that has undermined fundamental freedoms.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN News.

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