France: UN will approve Senegal’s Bathily as Libya UN envoy

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has nominated Abdoulaye Bathily to be the new U.N. envoy to Libya, and France’s U.N. ambassador said Thursday he thinks the Security Council will approve the former Senegalese minister and U.N. diplomat, which would end a contentious nine-month search.

The last U.N. special representative, Jan Kubis, resigned last Nov. 23 after 10 months on the job, and a number of candidates proposed by Guterres were rejected by council members, Libya or neighboring countries.

In December, Guterres appointed veteran American diplomat Stephanie Williams, a former U.N. deputy special representative in Libya, as his special adviser — a job that did not require council approval.

She left at the end of July. So, the mission has had no leader as Libyans grapple with a constitutional and political crisis.

U.N. political chief Rosemary DiCarlo warned Tuesday that failure to resolve Libya’s political crisis and hold delayed elections poses a growing threat in the country, pointing to violent clashes a few days ago that killed at least 42 people and injured 159 others, according to Libyan authorities.

Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The oil-rich county has for years been split between rival administrations, each backed by rogue militias and foreign governments.

The current stalemate grew out of the failure to hold elections in December and the refusal of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who led a transitional government, to step down. In response, the country’s east-based parliament appointed a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, who has for months sought to install his government in Tripoli.

French Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere was asked at a news conference whether Dbeiba’s opposition to Bathily would be a problem in trying to end Libya’s political crisis. “I don’t think so, no,” he replied.

De Riviere said the leadership of the U.N. mission for Libya over the last two years “has been chaotic” and it is time for the U.N. to have someone to lead it “and to pick up the baton of the negotiations over Libya.”

He said France fully supports the secretary-general’s appointment of Bathily, a former U.N. special representative for Central Africa.

“I think it will be accepted,” De Riviere said. “What’s important now is to get to the next phase, and I think that all the parties in Libya will cooperate with him, and the sooner they do that the better.”

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