After almost a year, Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, secured the Security Council's approval to appoint a Special Envoy of his choice to Libya.
The new Envoy is an experienced UN diplomat and a former Senegalese minister, Abdoulaye Bathily. He is also to head the mission of the UN in the country.
The former Envoy, Jan Kubis, resigned last November before a planned crucial vote on December 24, 2021. But the vote did not take place due to disagreements among Libyan protagonists.
Will The First African UN Envoy To Libya Succeed Where Others Didn't?
It has been eleven years since the UN sent eight envoys to end Libya's problem, but the success has been negligible. Though incremental progress has been made, that final and comprehensive solution has eluded everybody, including the UN.
The problem is how to help Libyans freely and securely choose their government in open, transparent, and inclusive elections. Last year's registration of some 2.8million Libyans shows the nation is eager to cast its ballots.
But that enthusiasm has given way to despair and disappointment, especially after canceling last year's planned elections. Mr. Bathily knows this fact very well and is aware of his difficulties.
So, naturally, elections topped his agenda in his first report on October 24 to the Security Council, setting his priorities. The Council reciprocated four days letter and showed its support by adopting Resolution 2656, extending the mission for one year, and insisting on elections as the only way out of the deadlock.
Practical support is, however, doubtful compared to previous Council promises. Nevertheless, the new Envoy made clear his intentions of having the international community support the UN initiative and refrain from taking any actions that could exacerbate divisions even more.
This is a diplomatic reference to the fact that over the last eleven years, the conflict in Libya has become a proxy war, thereby making the country a political battleground.
Abdoulaye Bathily also said that his most pressing priorities are: facilitating elections and ensuring the countrywide ceasefire signed in October 2020 is still observed.
Additionally, he is interested in the specifics of the agreement to form a unified government before the year is out that was reached on October 22 in Rabat, Morocco, between Khalid Al-Mishri of the Higher Council of State and Aqila Saleh of the House of Representatives.
Libya has two competing governments. The caretaker Prime Minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, in Tripoli, has refused to hand over power to the appointed premier of the Parliament, Fathi Bashaga.
The power struggle has caused violence to flare up in Tripoli, the country's capital. Civilians have since been paying a considerable price, as is always the case.
The question now is: what is the UN bringing to the table that is not there already? What kind of skills does Mr. Bathiliy possess that his predecessors lacked? How serious is the UNSC in its approach to ending the conflict in Libya?
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