UN chief appoints former Senegalese minister to head UN Libya mission

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment Friday of former Senegalese minister and U.N. diplomat Abdoulaye Bathily to become the new U.N. envoy to Libya after the Security Council gave its approval, marking the end of a nine-month search amid increasing chaos in the oil-rich north African nation.

Libya’s transitional government, which opposed Bathily’s nomination, reportedly sent a protest letter to Guterres, immediately raising questions about how effective the new envoy can be in trying to resolve the country’s political and economic crisis.

This comes as the last U.N. special representative, Jan Kubis, resigned Nov. 23, 2021, after just 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. This means that the mission has been leaderless despite Libyans struggling with a constitutional, political and economic crisis.

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

The U.N. has repeatedly warned that failure to resolve Libya’s political crisis and hold delayed elections poses a growing threat in the country, as seen in a recent outbreak of clashes that killed at least 42 people and injured 159 others, according to Libyan authorities.

Image Credit: Paul Kagame