UNITED NATIONS (WNN) – The United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously voted to extend the UN’s political mission in Libya until the country’s crucial presidential and parliamentary elections due in late December.
However, the world body remained divided over the withdrawal of all mercenaries and foreign forces from the oil-rich North African nation and mission leadership.
The vote extended the current mission to 31 January to ensure that the United Nations could continue to support Libya’s transitional government. The December 24 elections aim to reunite the country after a decade of turmoil.
The January expiration date coincides with the end of the contract for UN special envoy Jan Kubis – a subject of dispute between Western countries and Russia where he should be based. Kubis currently operates out of Geneva, but a strategic review of the mission, known as UNSMIL, includes relocating its chief to the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The West strongly supported it, especially before the elections, but Russia opposed it.
Previously, the Security Council extended UNSMIL’s mandate by only two weeks due to disputes between the West and Russia over the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters and foreign forces, as between rival Libyan governments in the country’s east. The ceasefire agreement of October 2020 was demanded. and West.
Faced with rival Western-backed and Russian draft resolutions, and the end of the current mandate on Thursday, council members decided to simply extend the current mandate.
Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi and divided the country between rival officials loyal to the UN-backed government in the capital Tripoli and commander Khalifa Hifter. has given. Each has been supported by various armed groups and foreign governments.
Hifter launched a military offensive in 2019 to capture the capital, an operation supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and France. But his march on Tripoli ultimately failed in June 2020, when Turkey sent troops to support the Libyan government, which was also backed by Qatar and Italy. This paved the way for the October Armistice Agreement and a transitional government accused of leading the country’s December 24 elections.