U.N. Security Council approves new U.N. envoy to mediate in Libya

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The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday approved a proposal by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint Bulgarian Nickolay Mladenov as the U.N. Libya special envoy and Norwegian Tor Wennesland as the U.N. Middle East envoy, diplomats said.

Mladenov will replace Ghassan Salame, who stepped down as the U.N. Libya envoy in March due to stress, and Wennesland succeeds Mladenov, who has spent the past five years as the U.N. mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

The appointments end months of bickering among council members sparked by a U.S. push to split the Libya role, with one person running the U.N. political mission and another focused on conflict mediation. The Security Council agreed to that proposal in September, but Russia and China abstained.

Libya descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In October, the two major sides in the country’s war – the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) – agreed a ceasefire.

“The members of the Security Council underlined the importance of a credible and effective Libyan-led Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism and looked forward to a comprehensive report by the Secretary-General on the proposals for effective ceasefire monitoring under the auspices of the United Nations,” the 15-member body said in a statement on Tuesday.

The council also reiterated a call for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya.

Wennesland is currently Norway’s special envoy on the Middle East peace process. The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Main Photo: United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov. EPA/ABED AL HASHLAMOUN

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