East Libya forces say UN envoy is an opponent

88

The forces controlling eastern Libya regard UN envoy Ghassan Salame as an enemy contributing to the North African nation’s violent crisis, a spokesman said.

The strong criticism followed the UN Libya mission’s expression of “deep concern” about a deployment of troops from the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Khalifa Haftar, to southern Libya.

Libya has been in conflict and chaos since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with competing governments and armed groups vying for control.

“Salame has turned into an opponent and has become part of the Libyan crisis,” LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said, adding the deployment to Sabha would boost security for populations and oilfields.

“Ghassan Salame should remember this is a holy national duty and we will not leave Libya to be like Lebanon, a country of militias and multiple authorities,” he told reporters in Benghazi.

Salame is from Lebanon.

Mismari said the UN official was surrounded by “graduates” of Tora Bora, the Afghan mountain hideout once used by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The UN mission did not respond to a request for comment.

Salame has been trying to persuade Haftar and other major Libya players to hold national elections. Haftar is linked to an eastern parallel government opposing the internationally recognised administration in Tripoli.

The United Nations has been endeavouring to stabilise Libya since 2011 but has no peacekeeping troops on the ground.