The UN special envoy criticized the continuing political deadlock in Libya

The oil-rich country has struggled with many challenges since President Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011. The postponement of national elections, originally scheduled for December 2021, has making the crisis even more serious.

Last November, UN Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily invited the leaders of five key Libyan institutions – the Government of National Accord, the House of Representatives, the High Council of State, the Libyan National Army and the Presidential Council – to negotiate in an effort to break their deadlock. .

“I really urge them once again to be conscious of history… to think about the future of their country,” he said. UN News.

Mr. Bathily also discussed the dire situation of Libya’s population and the renewed geopolitical concern for the country among several regional and international powers, caused by crises including conflict. conflict in Ukraine and neighboring Sudan, as well as instability in the Sahel.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Abdoulaye Bathily: Libya has gone through different transitional regimes since 2011, and all have decided at one time or another to facilitate elections for peace and stability in the country. However, what we have seen over the past decade is that it is only good intentions that are announced and not implemented.

Libya is not a poor country; There are enough resources for all Libyans to live in prosperity

Furthermore, we have seen that all the transitional leaders in Libya continue their rivalry and they really do not care about the ongoing elections. They are not interested in stabilizing the country and are causing tension in the country, even causing competition between their supporters – the armed groups – that respectively support them. In addition, we also see that they are very happy about the current situation where they can share the government’s achievements with each other.

Libya is not a poor country. Despite this crisis, Libya still produces 1.3 billion barrels of oil per day. There are enough resources for all Libyans to live in prosperity. However, what we see is that ordinary Libyans have become impoverished over the past 10 years.

UN News: You have warned that the renewed scramble for Libya between domestic and foreign actors is making a solution elusive. Why have we seen this contest renewed recently?

Abdoulaye Bathily: At one point in the conflict, there was some level of consensus among international and regional actors that they should help the Libyans reach an agreement, on a political settlement. , aimed at bringing together all Libyan leaders, uniting the country and, of course, bringing peace and stability.

However, what I have seen over the past months is the impact of the Ukraine crisis on Libya – both in terms of assets, oil and gas, as well as Libya’s military and geopolitical position in the center of Libya. Central Mediterranean – this geographical region Libya’s location has renewed a kind of geopolitical interest of a number of regional and international powers.

The Ukraine crisis has given a new dimension to the Libyan crisis due to its economic and geopolitical consequences. At the same time, the war in Sudan in recent months has also impacted both the security and economic situation.

Beyond Libya’s southern border you have the crisis in the Sahel, which has also worsened over the past months in Mali, Burkina Faso and of course the refugee situation in Chad. All this has had a huge impact on the internal situation in Libya.

People gather outside an apartment building damaged by floods in Derna, eastern Libya.

© UNICEF/Mostafa Alatrib

People gather outside an apartment building damaged by floods in Derna, eastern Libya.

UN news: In a statement this month, UN Security Council members express their gratitude to you and reaffirm their commitment to an inclusive Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process facilitated by the United Nations. What do you think about this?

Abdoulaye Bathily: I welcome this statement and hope that what we call a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned process will be carried out by Libyans of good will. This is the problem we always face in Libya because as long as leaders who are unwilling to engage in a comprehensive negotiation process for a peaceful settlement can continue to monopolize the political process, I fear that we cannot have a solution in Libya.

UN News: Latest efforts by NO TIP to reverse the deliberate defiance to seriously engage and persistently delay elections in Libya?

Abdoulaye Bathily: The High Council of State, the Presidential Council, the Government of National Unity and the Libyan National Army are today the structures that can make peace or make war in Libya, the countries that are at the center of domestic problems. This is why, for us, this is seen as a comprehensive mechanism that can bring about a peaceful solution if they are willing to do so.

Unfortunately, some of them have set conditions or prerequisites. Also, unfortunately, they were supported by a number of external players who carried out parallel initiatives that tended to neutralize our initiatives . As long as those players are supported in one way or another by outside players, we cannot have a solution.

This is why I told the Council that it is important that all international actors and all regional actors not only speak the same language but also act accordingly to support a peaceful and inclusive process in Libya.

A boy runs past buildings damaged by shelling during the conflict, on his way home from shopping in the city of Sirte. (document)

© UNICEF/Giovanni Diffidenti

A boy runs past buildings damaged by shelling during the conflict, on his way home from shopping in the city of Sirte. (document)

United Nations News: While the political deadlock in Libya continues, the economic situation is becoming seriously tense. What are your latest observations on that front?

Abdoulaye Bathily: The deterioration of the economic situation is obvious to everyone. The Libyan pound has actually depreciated against the dollar. People’s purchasing power is increasingly low and people complain a lot about this. Despite the country’s vast wealth, the majority of people do not benefit.

Today, Libya has fallen behind. There is more poverty and insecurity and less democracy and security for the majority of the population. Unfortunately, this is the reality in Libya today.

UN News: He also expressed concern about the presence of armed forces and heavy weapons in the capital Tripoli. Can you tell us more about the security situation there and in Libya in general?

We all know that Libya today is almost an open arms supermarket; Libya is increasingly becoming a kind of mafia state

Abdoulaye Bathily: We all know that Libya today is almost an open arms supermarket, used for internal political competition between armed groups, but also used in arms transactions, race armament and arms trade with neighboring countries and more.

The security situation is increasingly worrying the people because all these groups are competing for more power and more access to the country’s wealth, and thus their competition is increasing. tensions across Libya and especially in western Libya.

UN News: Another problem plaguing Libya is the dire situation of migrants and refugees. Can you tell us more about this?

Abdoulaye Bathily: Migration is one of the hot issues in Libya today. As we know, there is a lot of human trafficking. Unfortunately, because of the security situation, there is no hope that we can expect this situation to improve in the medium or even long term.

Libya is increasingly becoming a mafia state, dominated by several groups involved in the trade of petroleum, migrants, metals such as gold and drugs. All this trade is linked and carried out by the same clearly defined group of individuals in different parts of Libya, in neighboring countries and across the Mediterranean.

UN News: As you prepare to leave office, your final message to Libya’s key stakeholders, who, as you have said before, have not abandoned the preconditions of What are they to attend the negotiations that you invited them to participate in last year?

Abdoulaye Bathily: I once again urge them to be conscious of history and think about the future of their country. They must be morally responsible to their country. I will also make an appeal to their advisors, to those who support them in continuing the stalemate to the detriment of the interests of the Libyan people and the region, not only North Africa, but also Sahel.

It is time for the Libyan people, who long for peace and stability, to have access to the peace and stability they long for.


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