United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Ghassan Salame as his new special envoy to Libya and as the head of the UN mission in the country known as the UN Support Mission in Libya. His appointment came after months of searching for the right candidate.
In February, Guterres attempted to appoint Salam Fayyad, the former Palestinian prime minister. But the United States, a veto-holding UN Security Council member, objected to the appointment, accusing the international body of being “unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” as the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, saw the matter then.
Salame’s task is not easy, and four of his predecessors have so far failed to deliver peace and reconciliation to the war-ravaged country.
Right after his first meeting with a group of Libyan politicians, before his appointment, Salame tweeted May 19, “Three days of meetings with Libyan leaders has been exhausting but I hope it will help the national reconciliation process” — indicating that he knows the difficulties facing him.
Salame is the second Lebanese to take the post after Tarek Mitri who tried his luck with the Libyans in 2012-14, before he was replaced by Bernardino Leon.
Salame’s predecessor, Martin Kobler, had failed to make the warring Libyan factions accept the UN-brokered peace agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, in December 2015. It was during Leon’s tenure that the breakthrough took place and the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) was signed. That agreement gave birth to the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez al-Sarraj. Since then and despite the shuttle diplomacy, nothing has been achieved and much remains to be done.