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Political Dialogue in Libya ‘More Crucial than Ever’, Top United Nations Official Tells Security Council, Warning against Consequence of Using Force

Security Council

7194th Meeting (AM)

Political Dialogue in Libya ‘More Crucial than Ever’, Top United Nations Official


Tells Security Council, Warning against Consequence of Using Force


Warning the use of force in strife-torn Libya would have “disastrous consequences”, the United Nations senior official in that country today urged all parties to resolve the current political impasse through peaceful means and called upon the Organization to facilitate a political dialogue.

“This is more crucial than ever before,” said Tarek Mitri, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).  “The stakes are high and we will spare no effort in helping prevent Libya’s descent into greater instability and violence.”

He said that on 16 May, retired General Khalifa Haftar had launched Operation Libya Dignity, a military offensive against groups he had labelled terrorists responsible for the recent wave of violence and targeted assassinations of security personnel, judges, journalists and other civilians in Benghazi and other eastern areas of the country.  Some viewed that move as an attempted coup.  On 26 May, the General National Congress had approved the new cabinet of Ahmed Maiteeq, elected Prime Minister on 4 May, but interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni had refused to hand over power, citing procedural irregularities.

This morning, following the Supreme Court having ruled Mr. Maiteeq’s election unconstitutional, he and the Deputy President of the Congress, Salah Makhzoum, had announced that they would step down, Mr. Mitri said.  The continuing security void and crisis posed a threat to Libya’s post-revolutionary political transition, he said, adding that he would soon convene a meeting with major actors aimed at forging an agreement on the principles of political interaction, national priorities during the remainder of the transition, and ways to address immediate security and other divisive issues.

Amid the turmoil, there had been considerable progress in advancing the constitutional process since March, he said.  On 21 April, the General National Congress had convened the first session of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly in al-Baida.  The High National Elections Commission of Libya was now preparing, with United Nations technical support, the election of the 200-member Council of Representatives that would succeed the Congress.

The security situation continued to impede the functioning of the justice system, due to attacks on prosecutors and judges, he said.  Nonetheless, the trial of 37 former regime officials, including Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah al-Senussi, had begun.  It would be a crucial test for Libya’s willingness and ability to conduct fair trials.  UNSMIL had visited all defendants in Tripoli, Misrata and Zintan, but was denied access to other detainees held in al-Hadba prison.

Also briefing the Council was Eugène-Richard Gasana (Rwanda), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011).  He noted agreement reached to establish a procedure to address incomplete arms embargo exemption notifications, which was also the subject of an additional recommendation of the Council, bringing to 10 the number of recommendations to which the Committee had agreed to follow up.  That action had consisted of three recommendations relating to Libya’s arms procurement.  One was aimed at requesting the country’s Permanent Representative to update the names of authorized officials in the Libyan focal point for arms procurement, and it required no follow-up.  Follow-up action on six recommendations was currently pending. 

In other developments, he said, a Member State had informed the Committee in March about the dates and locations of the delivery of parts of previously notified transfers to Libya.  Also during that month, the Committee had received a letter from the Chair of the Security Council Al-Qaida Committee relating to an initiative to implement the travel ban measure more effectively, through cooperation with the World Customs Organization.  On 3 April, the Committee had received a letter for the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, proposing six members to serve on the expert Panel.  Also, the Committee had received communication concerning procedures for requesting relevant Member States to submit biometric data on individuals on its list.

He said the Committee had received a report from a Member State on 16 April about the loss in Libya of part of an arms shipment, an exemption for which had previously been approved.  On 20 May, the Committee had received a letter from Libya’s Permanent Representative informing it of the creation of two focal points for arms procurement within two ministries.  On 29 May, the Committee received an update from the Panel, during which it presented its travel plans for the present mandate, expressed concern about the security situation, and informed the Committee about a fraudulent company contacting Member States, claiming to be authorized to recover frozen funds on Libya’s behalf and transmitting a forged Libyan Government decree to that end.  The Committee had also discussed the new composition of the expert Panel.

On 30 May, it had received an inspection report from a Member State, in line with resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011), he recalled.  The Committee’s consultations on 2 June involved the participation of Libya’s Ambassador to discuss issues relating to the arms embargo.  While some members appreciated the country’s “strong efforts” to implement the ban in challenging circumstances and pointed to the need for practical and implementable solutions, others had raised concern about the implication of a lack of a single unified procurement mechanism in the current security situation, and called for a single focal point superseding individual ministries.

The Libyan Ambassador, he noted, had recognized the difficulties in having multiple focal points, but indicated that that was presently the best option as the country lacked the capacity to implement a single, superseding structure.  The Panel of Experts saw a “high risk of diversion and misuse of weapons” in the current situation.  It reported that ongoing transfers would likely adversely affect the security situation, with some uncertainty about exact end-users of notified materiel.  The Committee would continue to engage with Libya on setting up arms procurement procedures, with a view to assisting that process.

Following the briefings, Ibrahim O. A. Dabbashi (Libya) said that more than two years after Muammar Qadhafi’s fall, most Libyans had not seen their aspirations achieved.  The country had yet to install strong, experienced leaders and the rule of law.  In the last month, freedom of expression had been greatly compromised by abductions and assassinations of political activists, and the reluctance of judges to carry out their duties for fear of their lives.

But he rejected the notion that his country was divided and ruled by tribes.  Libya’s people were as united today as they were during the 2011 revolution, and held hope for a new Government that would adopt a permanent constitution by year’s end.

He called on the Council and UNSMIL to encourage all Libyan institutions to create an environment conducive to the 5 June parliamentary elections and hire skilled, unemployed Libyans.  The Organizations also should encourage the new Parliament to establish clear rules of procedure and organize workshops to guide parliamentarians to that end, as well as the central Government to delegate broad powers to efficient, transparent and accountable local bodies.

Further, he called for support to rebuild Libya’s army in line with international standards, expand the police force, disarm all armed groups, and criminalize the carrying of weapons.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:50 a.m.

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For information media. Not an official record.