The UN envoy for Libya said Wednesday that military forces “are flexing their muscles in many parts of the country” and the oil-rich nation needs a competent government. Ghassan Salame told the Security Council that “the specter of violence remains present,” pointing to clashes between forces allied with two rival communities close to Libya’s border with Tunisia, rival groups at a flashpoint in the eastern vicinity of the capital of Tripoli, and heightened tension around the city of Derna.
He said he was delivering the briefing by videoconference from Tunis and not Tripoli as he had planned “because bloody clashes at the airport have halted all flights in and out … for the whole week.” Libya fell into chaos after the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and since 2014 it has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes.
Salame said negotiations to amend a UN-brokered political agreement in December 2015 to create a unity government “have crystalized consensus on the much-needed adjustments.”
“Although a formal agreement is yet to be reached, this consensus is desirable and reachable,” he said. Salame said Libya needs a government that can deliver desperately needed public services, unify the country’s institutions, provide order and justice, and preside over elections that would end the current transition.
He lamented that civilians continue to be killed and injured “in crossfire and indiscriminate attacks” and “armed groups fight recklessly in residential areas, with no thought to the safety of civilians.” Libya already has “20 million pieces of arms” and the arms embargo on the North African nation “has never been more important,” Salame said.
“It is for this reason that recent reports of a large shipment of explosives intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard are particularly alarming,” he said. Salame said the UN panel of experts monitoring the arms embargo on Libya is looking into the shipment.