|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7075th Meeting (AM)
Libya’s Security Situation Still Precarious amid Civilian Protests Demanding
Withdrawal of Armed Groups, Top Official Tells Security Council
The security situation in Libya remained “precarious”, amid violent protests over the presence of armed groups and mounting discontent with a protracted political process, the senior United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today, underlining the importance of national dialogue in producing a shared vision for the future.
Briefing the Council, Tarek Mitri, Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said that in Tripoli, public anger at revolutionary brigades and other armed groups had been fuelled by frequent clashes. Protesters, prompted by calls from the local council, had taken to the streets in November, marching on compounds held by revolutionary brigades from Misrata and demanding their withdrawal. Those forces, bowing to public pressure, had subsequently announced their withdrawal, but not before 46 people had been killed and 516 injured. Protesters in Benghazi, meanwhile, were demanding the eviction of armed brigades and the reconstitution of the police and army.
“This public outcry comes against the backdrop of unprecedented levels of insecurity over the past few weeks, with assassinations and abductions of security and State officials appearing to intensify in both Benghazi and Derna,” he said. On 18 November, Benghazi’s military commander had survived an assassination attempt, while heavy fighting on 25 November between Libyan Special Forces and the Ansar al-Sharia brigades, had resulted in nine deaths, and an undisclosed number of Ansar al-Sharia casualties. While the army had been sent to Tripoli to prevent a security vacuum, military and police institutions remained weak, he said, urging all parties to engage in dialogue and create the right “balance of incentives” to stimulate reintegration, disarmament, and ultimately, State monopoly on the use of armed force.
Against that backdrop, UNSMIL had requested enhanced protection for its premises, he said. Some groups in Libya, however, had misunderstood the Council’s response to the Secretary-General’s request concerning a guard unit as a prelude to international intervention. “We will have to spare no effort in dispelling misinterpretations", he said, reaffirming full respect for Libya’s national sovereignty.
Turning to the 8,000 “conflict-related” detainees, most of who were being held by armed brigades, he said UNSMIL had found “hard evidence” of torture, with 27 deaths in custody recorded since the end of the conflict, 11of them this year alone. At the same time, he commended the General National Congress’s recent announcement of the Transitional Justice Law, which would include provisions on truth-seeking and reparations, and which require detainees to be released or handed over to the judiciary within 90 days of the law’s promulgation. He also welcomed the release of four senor leaders of the Warfallah tribe, who had been held for more than a year in Al-Zawiya without charge or trial.
More broadly, he said UNSMIL had requested Libyan authorities to share more documentation on man-portable surface-to-air missiles, and to cooperate more with international partners on issues of arms proliferation. UNSMIL had received information indicating that 6,400 barrels of uranium fissile material — “yellowcake” — was being stored in a former military facility close to Sabha, under control of the Libyan Army. An International Atomic Energy Agency inspection team would visit this month to verify existing stockpiles and storage conditions. In addition, a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would visit this month to observe and verify the destruction of chemical weapons.
On the political front, he said, progress towards the election of a constitution-drafting assembly remained “steady”. The nominations process had closed on 7 November with a total of 700 registered candidates, including 74 women contesting for six reserved seats. A vetting process with the right to appeal was now under way, and preliminary candidate lists had been published, as well. A joint action plan had been developed by a newly established national women’s network to strengthen women’s participation in the upcoming elections. The High National Elections Commission remained “cautious” about committing to a firm date for polling, despite that the first phase of voter registration had already begun in the beginning of December. Disagreement over constitutional guarantees on minority rights had yet to be resolved.
He said that in November, he had convened a consultative meeting of 40 leaders of major political forces, women and “independent personalities” to explore options for managing the democratic transition. The exchanges had been “markedly frank”, but also reflected a shared desire to agree on the way forward and an awareness of the need to prevent a political vacuum at all costs. With that in mind, a number of national dialogues had been announced. Underscoring the need for a single process accepted by all parties, he said UNSMIL was offering political and technical advice in preparation for such national dialogues.
Eugène-Richard Gasana ( Rwanda), speaking as Chair of Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1970 (2011), then updated the Council on the Committee’s work from 17 September to 9 December. In informal consultations on 6 November, the Committee had heard an update from the Panel of Experts, which had expressed its concern at difficulties in obtaining responses from some States to requests for visits. It had reported on visits to five Member States, among them, three trips to Libya and one to International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) Headquarters. The Panel also was making inquiries about individuals designated under the travel ban, and was concerned about reports of violations of the arms embargo, both from and to Libya. It also had voiced concern about some States’ ability to comply with United Nations asset freeze measures.
Also on 6 November, he said the Committee had discussed the Libyan arms procurement process and an issue related to the facility in Sebha, where man-portable surface-to-air missiles and yellowcake were reportedly being stored. On those issues, the Panel had highlighted the work of UNSMIL and the United Nations Mine Action Service in securing stockpiles. Finally, he had updated the Committee on the status of the Security Council-INTERPOL Special Notices agreement, reporting that Notices had been published for 17 individuals and two entities on the Committee’s list, while three entries lacked the required minimum identifiers for issuance.
In relation to the arms embargo, he said the Committee had received two notifications on which no negative decision had been taken. It also had responded to two requests for guidance from Member States, and received one inspection report from a Member State, pursuant to paragraph 13 of resolution 1970 (2011), and paragraph 15 of resolution 1973 (2011) relating to the arms embargo.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:30 a.m.
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