North Africa

UN envoy for Libya resigns due to ‘stress’

The UN special envoy for Libya has resigned from his position of three years, over concerns for his health. In a tweet, former Lebanese culture minister, Ghassan Salame, cited stress as the reason for his decision to step down.

“For two years, I tried to re-unite Libyans and restrain foreign interference […] but for health reasons I can no longer continue with this level of stress,” stated Salame.

“Therefore I asked the [UN] secretary-general to relieve me of my duties.”

Salame was appointed in 2017 following the departure of German diplomat Martin Kobler as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Libya and head of UN Support Mission in Libya. Kobler’s predecessor, Spanish diplomat Bernardino Leon, who took office in 2014, was implicated in controversial leaked emails, indicating that he had secret negotiations with the UAE government, which led to him accepting a lucrative position of president of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy.

Al Jazeera reported that a UN spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, confirmed that UN chief Antonio Guterres received Salame’s resignation. “The secretary-general has always had full confidence in Salame’s work and the great efforts he has made to bring peace to Libya,” Dujarric said. “[Guterres] will be discussing with Salame the way to ensure a smooth transition so as not to lose any momentum on the gains that have been made.”

Salame had been attempting to bring the warring Libyan parties to the negotiation table in order to help find a political solution to the Libyan crisis, termed a “proxy war” by Guterres.

In agreement with the UN-recognised government based in the capital Tripoli, Turkey deployed troops in January. The rival Libyan National Army (LNA) led by General Khalifa Haftar controls much of the east and is supported by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia.

The GNA has as of today re-opened its Syrian embassy in Damascus following high-level meetings with the Syrian government against shared concerns over Turkish military activity in both countries.

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