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Abdoulaye Bathily becomes the new special envoy of the UN Secretary General in Libya

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, September 8th 2022 à 14:30 | Read 422 times

Abdoulaye Bathily will have the heavy responsibility of establishing dialogue between the two rival Prime Ministers (photo: UN)
Abdoulaye Bathily will have the heavy responsibility of establishing dialogue between the two rival Prime Ministers (photo: UN)
LIBYA. The UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterres has appointed the Senegalese Abdoulaye Bathily (75) as special envoy to Libya.

This former independent expert for the strategic review of Manul in 2021, will combine this function with that of Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (Manul). Attached to the UN Department of Political Affairs and based in Tunis, this mission was established in 2011, after the Libyan civil war. Manul's objective was to support the country's temporary authorities and ensure peacekeeping. A mandate extended in 2016 to mediate in the implementation of the Skhirat Agreement signed in December 2015.

Abdoulaye Bathily has held various ministerial portfolios in his country including Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of African Affairs (2012-2013), Minister of Energy and Hydraulics (2000-2001), Minister of Environment and Nature Protection (1993-1998). A former professor of history for thirty years at Cheikh Anta Diop University (Senegal), he holds doctorates in history from the University of Birmingham and Cheikh Anta Diop University. He also served as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) (2013-2014). He also served as Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) in Gabon (2014-2016).  In 2018, he was appointed Special Advisor to the Secretary-General for Madagascar and in 2019, Independent Expert for the Strategic Review of the UN Office for West Africa.

The first African to hold this position, the new Special Representative for Libya is fluent in English, French, Soninke and Wolof.

An exhausting job

This position has not been easy to fill, as it has worn out many. The predecessors of the Senegalese have all thrown in the towel or been asked to leave. The Lebanese Ghassan Salamé was appointed in June 2017 after four months of fruitless search following the dismissal of the German Martin Kobler and the refusal of the Americans in the UN Security Council to validate the name of his successor the Palestinian Salam Fayyad chosen by the UN Secretary General. Ghassan Salamé resigned in March 2020. Officially for medical reasons. "I have sought for two and a half years to bring Libyans together, to avoid foreign intervention and to preserve the unity of the country (but) my health no longer allows me to bear so much stress," he said at the time.

The latest to be appointed was Slovakian Ján Kubiš, who was appointed on January 18, 2021 and asked to leave his post in November 2021. One month before the date of the country's first presidential election, which was finally postponed to the end of January 2022 and then postponed without a new deadline.

Stephanie Williams had served as interim president from December 2021 to August 1, 2022, with the title of special advisor for Libya and not special envoy. Based in Tripoli, she succeeded in "obtaining results in the areas of political, security and economic dialogue," as Stéphane Dujarric pointed out. For the spokesman of the UN Secretary General, she "made key contributions to the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement in October 2020, the adoption of the political roadmap by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in November 2020, and the unprecedented level of consensus reached in the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State on a constitutional framework for the elections.

Establishing dialogue between the two rival prime ministers
Despite all her efforts, Stephanie Williams failed to successfully complete the presidential and legislative elections, which are essential for the return of democracy in Libya and to avoid the partition of the country.

"The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to support a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned process to address the outstanding challenges and ensure the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections as soon as possible," said Dujarric in August 2022.

The main task of the new envoy will therefore be to promote the emergence of a new form of governance recognized by all parties. He will have to convince the two rival prime ministers to establish a dialogue to find a way out of their conflict. However, Abdoulay Bathily arrives on shaky ground, as supporters of the two prime ministers have brought out their weapons to clash in the suburbs of Tripoli. Abdelhamid Dbeibeh, who has headed the national unity government since March 2021, does not want to give up his seat to Fathi Bashagha, who was elected Prime Minister in February 2022 by the Tobruk parliament in the east of the country. He demands that his successor be appointed by the ballot box or by a parliament resulting from a new legislative process.

Algeria and France welcome the choice of Abdoulaye Bathily

The appointment of Abdoulaye Bathily has been welcomed. "Eminent diplomat and committed pan-Africanist, Professor Bathily has, to his credit, remarkable contributions to works of peace through meritorious efforts to promote peaceful negotiated solutions to complex conflict situations," said a statement from the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The text also indicates that "the President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune, had the opportunity to personally discuss with Professor Bathily the Libyan crisis and other areas of tension in Africa, welcomes his choice and wishes to assure the new Special Representative for Libya of his full support. The same statement said that "Algeria expresses its willingness to cooperate closely with him to carry out the noble mission entrusted to him. It calls on all Libyan parties to cooperate fully with Professor Bathily and to seize this happy development for a salutary collective leap in the interest of the brotherly Libyan people.

France "assures him of its full support in the accomplishment of his new mission at the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. It calls on all Libyan political and institutional actors to better cooperate with the Special Representative. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that "France stands alongside the United Nations for the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement of 23 October 2020 and the promotion of a viable political solution to the Libyan conflict. This solution requires the formation of a unified government capable of governing throughout Libya and the holding, as soon as possible and in accordance with Security Council resolutions, of transparent and credible presidential and parliamentary elections throughout the country. It is a matter of responding to the aspirations of the Libyan people and of nearly three million citizens registered to vote.

The Special Representatives
of the UN Secretary General in Libya

September 2011/September 2012: Ian Martin (UK)

September 2012/August 2014: Tarek Mitri (Lebanon)

August 2014/October 2015: Bernardino Leon (Spain)

November 2015/February 2017: Martin Kobler (Germany)

June 2017/March 2020: Ghassan Salamé (Lebanon)

March 2020/January 2021: Stephanie Williams (United States) Acting

January 2021/November 2021: Ján Kubiš (Slovakia)

September 2022/... Abdoulaye Bathily (Senegal)


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