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Bathily Resigns as UN Envoy, Says Libya Is Arena for Fierce Rivalry Among Regional, Int’l Actors

United Nations envoy for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily tendered his resignation on Tuesday, accusing the country’s feuding parties of revealing an “intentional defiance” to engage in UN-led efforts to help resolve their political crisis and a tenacity to perpetually delay elections.

The North African country has become the playground for “fierce rivalry” among regional and international actors, Bathily warned during a briefing at the UN Security Council.

He said the renewed scramble for Libya, its position and immense resources among internal and external players is rendering a solution ever elusive.

Bathily said his invitation to the five key Libyan stakeholders for a dialogue to resolve all contested issues pertaining to the electoral laws and the formation of a unified government were met with “stubborn resistance, unreasonable expectations, and indifference to the interests of the Libyan people.”

Since the end of 2022, the UN-led efforts to help resolve Libya’s political crisis through elections faced national as well as regional pushbacks, revealing an “intentional defiance to engage in earnest and a tenacity to perpetually delay elections,” he noted.

“Therefore, amidst this environment of entrenched positions and regional and global complexities, the challenges facing UN-led efforts in Libya have become increasingly pronounced,” he continued.

Also, he added, “despite continuous and extensive engagement with the main institutional actors, their persistent positions are significantly impeding efforts to advance the political process.”

The envoy then explained that head of the High Council of State (HCS) Mohamed Takala and head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU) Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah nominated their representatives for the proposed dialogue, but both put pre-conditions which require the reopening of the electoral laws obtained by consensus after eight months of negotiations by the 6+6 Interparliamentary Committee and published in the Official Gazette by Speaker of the House of Representatives Aguila Saleh.

Takala and Dbeibah also require the adoption of a new constitution as a pre-requisite for the electoral process, Bathily told the Security Council.

He said that “Saleh also continues to set the formation of a new government by the HoR as his priority,” arguing that the HoR “is the main legislative body that enjoys utmost legitimacy.”

Meanwhile, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) General Khalifa Haftar conditions his participation either to the invitation of the HoR-backed government led by Ossama Hammad, or to the disinvitation of Dbeibah, or in other terms the exclusion of both governments.

Bathily said that while the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and UN agencies, funds and programs engage the HoR-backed government especially on issues pertaining to humanitarian assistance and to the reconstruction on Derna, the administration is not, on its own, one of the key institutions whose buy-in is needed for a political settlement to enable elections.

He noted that “the rivalry among the five major Libyan players is at the heart of the problem”, adding that the dialogue proposal is a balanced way to an inclusive solution.

“These complexities were exacerbated by an apparent agreement between President of the Presidential Council Mohamed al-Menfi, Saleh, and Takala, according to a joint statement following a trilateral meeting on March 10 in Cairo, with which UNSMIL was not associated,” the envoy said.

Bathily stressed that his subsequent discussions with the leaders who participated in the Cairo meeting revealed diverging interpretations of and lack of details on its outcome.

Therefore, preconditions put forward by Libyan leaders contradict their proclaimed intention to find a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned solution to the conflict, according to the UN envoy. “So far, they have not demonstrated their good will.”

Also, he said concerns regarding the weakening of the international consensus on Libya are growing within the general population, as their country has become the playground for “fierce rivalry among regional and international actors motivated by geopolitical, political and economic interests as well as competition extending beyond Libya and related to its neighborhood.”

“The renewed scramble for Libya, its position and immense resources among internal and external players is rendering a solution ever elusive,” he lamented.

At the economic level, Bathily said the situation in Libya is becoming severely strained, amid warnings from the Central Bank of Libya of an impending liquidity crisis.

He explained that the temporary surcharge on official foreign currency exchange, combined with the declining value of the Libyan dinar in the domestic parallel market and restricted access to foreign currencies, has noticeably fueled public anger.

Bathily, therefore, urged Libyan authorities to promptly agree on a national budget and decisively address significant deficiencies in transparent, equitable, and accountable management of state resources for the benefit of all Libyans, including those in the marginalized areas of the country.

He then warned 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.

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