Mr. Ghassan Salame, the new UN envoy to Libya.
Tripoli— The Libyan Parliament has welcomed the UN Security Council’s approval of Mr. Ghassan Salame saying that he could play an important role in bringing an end to the Libyan crisis. The head of the Presidency Council, Fayez Sarraj, has also vowed to fully support the new UN envoy in his mission in Libya and wished him success.
Salame tweeted on Thursday thanking the UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres and promised the Libyan people that the interests of their country at the top of his priorities.
He tweeted “I thank UNSG @antonioguterres for his decision & UNSC for its unanimous trust. To the people of #Libya:your interests are my top priority.”
Mr. Guterres on Friday officially put forward Salame, a professor of International Relations and Conflict Resolution at Sciences-Po in Paris to Security Council for approval which it did on Tuesday.
The Parliament’s spokesman, Abdullah Blaiheg, said on Wednesday that the Parliament is expecting the new UN envoy to play a positive role by assisting in the solution of the Libyan crisis.
Speaking to the Italian news agency, Aki, Blaiheg said that the Parliament “wants the UN mission to be neutral and the new envoy to take the experience of former envoys into consideration”.
“If Ghassan Salame wants to succeed in his mission he needs to avoid making the same mistakes that were made by Martin Kobler,” he added. In that he should not take sides, not to intervene in internal affairs, respect the Libya’s sovereignty and its people and to be committed to work as a mediator not as trustee,” he said.
Blaiheg said the Parliament expects the new envoy to help bringing all parties together to amend the Political Accord and take close note of the Libyan National Army’s fight against terrorism and extremism.
On his part the chair of the Presidency Council Mr. Fayez Sarraj said he believes that Salame’s mission “aims to push efforts further toward the settlement of our country’s crisis on the basis of the Political Accord.”
The Parliament’s spokesman said “we hope that the United Nations and the Security Council would reach a decision to lift the arms embargo on the Libyan army, as it fights terrorism and extremism, which hits every day one capital or another around the world.”
Salame, who replaces Martin Kobler of Germany, served as a senior adviser to then secretary-general Kofi Annan from 2003-2006, and later as Lebanon’s culture minister. He is currently dean of the Paris School of International Affairs and a professor of international relations at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
The search for a successor to Martin Kobler began in February when Guterres proposed former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for the job.
The United States rejected Fayyad because of his nationality. US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United Nations had been “unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”
According to the Associated Press, Guterres described the US rejection as “a loss for the Libyan peace process and for the Libyan people.”
Following that objection, Russia and other council members then rejected a British candidate and an American candidate, said diplomats. Kobler’s posting was briefly extended until the end of June.
“Over 20 people were approached and either ruled themselves out ‘i.e. they weren’t available’ or they were ruled out … by one of the Security Council members,” a senior council diplomat told the AP.
Salame is the second Lebanese to take on the role. Tarek Mitri was the second head of UNSMIL but held the job for less than two years leaving the job in August of 2014.
He will be taking over from Kobler whose failure in the mission led Libyans of all affiliation demand his removal. Kobler was unable to push through the Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) by having the House of Representatives (HoR) vote confidence in the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA).