UN Libya envoy resigns, cites stress as factor


After more than two years as the UN Special Representative in charge of finding a way to a lasting peace in war-torn Libya, Ghassan Salamé – who also heads up the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) – resigned on Monday, citing failing health caused by the stress of the position.

Ghassan Salamé tweeted he had sought “to reunite the Libyans, curb interference of the outside and preserve the unity of the country”.

He pointed out the Berlin Summit, followed by Security Council resolution 2510, adopted on 12 February, insisted on a nationwide ceasefire, enforcement of an arms embargo and seen the launch of a promising new three track process to bring the UN-backed government and opposition rebel militia, together.

Last week the UN envoy brought representatives from the warring sides to Geneva for peace talks – only to see negotiations break down again amid further ceasefire breaches.

“My health no longer allows this rate of stress,” Salamé tweeted. “I asked the Secretary-General to relieve me from my mission, wishing Libya peace and stability”.

Following Salamé’s announcement, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric briefed reporters at UN Headquarter, saying Secretary-General António Guterres “has always had full confidence in Salamé’s work and the great efforts he made to bring peace to Libya”.

The UN chief would discuss with the world body’s former point man in Libya the way to ensure a smooth transition “so as not lose any momentum on gains that made”.

Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi nine years ago, Libya has been in the throes of ongoing instability and economic collapse, despite its large oil reserves.

Thousands died in fighting around the capital since last April, following an offensive by the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) commanded by Khalifa Haftar and pro-Government forces.

At the weekend, Dujarric issued a statement saying the Secretary-General condemned “indiscriminate bombing” of parts of Tripoli, including residential areas and the airport.

“The Secretary-General emphasises civilians must be protected at all times in line with international humanitarian law”, the statement said and echoed the UN chief’s call for “an immediate cessation of hostilities”, urging Security Council resolution 2510 be fully implemented.