Permanent Representative Urges Steps against ‘Spoilers’ Opposing Unity Government
With Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) a growing threat to Libya, as well as the wider region and beyond, the fight against violent extremism in that country could only be sustainable if it was led by a national unity Government, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there told the Security Council today.
Martin Kobler, who also heads the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said the current political and military vacuum in the country was allowing terrorist groups and criminal networks to establish deep roots. He noted that, while 17 February had marked the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution, today’s Libya had no effective State institutions.
He recalled that, following his 15 January briefing, Libya’s Presidency Council had presented a Cabinet for approval by the House of Representatives, which had voted in principle to endorse the Libyan Political Agreement, but requested that the Council nominate a new, smaller Cabinet. On 22 February, the House of Representatives had met to consider the new Cabinet, but the opposition had interrupted the session. He said that, despite the lack of recognition and positive endorsement, he intended to reconvene the Libyan Political Dialogue to explore the way forward, in line with the Agreement.
To move forward, it was essential that the Government of National Unity be allowed to take up its duties in Tripoli as soon as possible, he continued, calling upon the country’s political leadership to support the Agreement. Additionally, given the security situation and the expansion of Da’esh, it was imperative to unify and reform the Libyan security forces, he said, urging the Presidency Council and the Government of National Accord to immediately establish a mechanism to achieve that goal.
Suggesting a parallel, complementary and bottom-up approach, he emphasized the need to broaden the backing for the Agreement and to further deepen support for civil society, youth and women’s organizations. Among other things, the Constitutional Drafting Assembly should present the draft constitution in time for a referendum, he said, adding that he was grateful to the Government of Oman for having offered to host a retreat in that regard.
While the political process was extremely slow, Da’esh was taking advantage of the political and security vacuum by expanding to the west, east and south, he warned. Also, Libya’s financial resources continued to dwindle while criminal networks, including human smugglers, were booming. The conflict in Benghazi had escalated during the last days when forces under the banner of the Libyan National Army had commenced new offensive operations against Da’esh and the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council.
He said that, with the overwhelming majority of Libya’s people favouring the Libyan Political Agreement and supporting the formation of a Government of National Accord that could effectively address existing threats, some in politically responsible positions still refused to listen to their voices and to pursue their own political interests. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation was deteriorating, with 2.4 million people in need of assistance, and more than 40 per cent of Libya’s health facilities were not functioning. Over 1 million children were at risk of being affected by a shortage of vaccines, he said, underlining the “utmost importance” of political actors ending the human suffering.
Ramlan Bin Ibrahim (Malaysia), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the 1970 Libya Sanctions Committee, briefed the Council on that body’s work between 11 December 2015 and 2 March 2016. He said that, on 7 January, it had issued a fourth Implementation Assistance Notice to help Member States implement the travel ban. He also recalled how, on 15 January, the Committee had informed Libya’s Permanent Representative about a forged document, purportedly from the Committee, authorizing the unfreezing of assets belonging to the Central Bank, which had not been subjected to sanctions since December 2011. The Committee would discuss the final report and recommendations of its Panel of Experts under resolution 2213 (2015) during informal consultations on 3 March, he said.
Ibrahim Dabbashi (Libya) affirmed that people in his country wanted the Government of National Accord, but some spoilers had been using all kinds of tactics to block its formation. Hopefully, the Council would not fail to sanction those who hampered implementation of political agreements. Libyans had demonstrated that, when their country was encircled, nothing could divide them, he declared, pointing out that young patriots had come together to fight against Da’esh, forgetting their differences in order to rid the nation of terrorism.
He went on to state that the Libyan army and supporting forces were to be congratulated for their victories in Benghazi that had made it possible for families to return to their homes for the first time in two years. It was time for the Government of National Accord to implement a reconstruction plan for that city, with help from the international community, which had a role to play in helping the army develop on a professional basis, in line with international standards, he said, adding that the reintegration of all soldiers who had not committed human rights violations must be a priority for the Government of National Accord and international organizations.
Warning that strengthening the capacity of militia groups to fight Da’esh would only complicate the situation, he stressed that the time had come for those using religion as a slogan to distance themselves from Da’esh and Al-Qaida. Two television stations, including one operating from the United Kingdom, were being used for propaganda purposes and the international community had a responsibility to take action against them. Libyans expected a Government that would unite them and provide security and basic services, he said, expressing hope that it would be able to help them achieve their goal, with assistance from the Council.
The meeting began at 11:41 a.m. and ended at 12:14 p.m.