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U.N. Libya envoy urges U.N. to blacklist anyone who obstructs peace talks

U.N. Libya envoy urges U.N. to blacklist anyone who obstructs peace talks

November 19, 2020

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The acting United Nations Libya envoy pressed the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to blacklist anyone who obstructs peace efforts after the warring parties agreed a ceasefire and Libyan participants in political talks set a date for elections.

The 15-member Security Council is able to impose an asset freeze or travel ban on individuals or entities.

“This council has tools at its disposal including to prevent obstructionists from jeopardizing this rare opportunity to restore peace in Libya. I call on you to use them,” acting U.N. Libya envoy Stephanie Williams told the council.

Last month the two major sides in the country’s war – the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) – agreed a ceasefire and Libyan participants in political talks last week set Dec. 24, 2021 as the date for elections.

“The council is ready to support the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum will all the tools at its disposal, including sanctions against any spoilers,” said a Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Williams said that despite some progress in implementing the announced ceasefire, neither side had yet withdrawn from the frontlines as agreed and cargo flights were still arriving at air bases controlled by both.

Turkey backs the GNA. Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt support the LNA. Those foreign powers have been cited in earlier U.N. documents as supplying weapons in defiance of the arms embargo.

Libya descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, said on Thursday the United States, Britain, Germany and Estonia had proposed the council’s Libya sanctions committee blacklist “some of the most egregious abusers of human rights in Libya, including Mohammed al-Kani and the Kaniyat militia.”

If no countries on the 15-member committee raise any objections by tomorrow, then the targeted sanctions will be imposed, diplomats said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hopes to appoint current U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov as the new Libya envoy to replace Ghassan Salame, who quit in March due to stress.

But the Security Council has not yet given the green light as diplomats said some members would instead like an African to be appointed. 

“Nickolay Mladenov is the right choice for this role. We look forward to consulting with the Secretary-General and this Council on potential African candidates for the UNSMIL Coordinator position,” Craft told the council.

UNSMIL is the U.N. political mission in Libya.

(Additional reporting by Angus McDowall; editing by David Evans)

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