UN demands all countries enforce UN arms embargo on Libya

AP , Tuesday 15 Sep 2020

Troops loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government patrol the area in Zamzam, near Abu Qareen, Libya September 15, 2020. REUTERS

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution Tuesday demanding that all countries enforce the widely violated U.N. arms embargo on Libya, withdraw all mercenaries from the North African nation.

The council also called for political talks and a cease-fire in the war, stressing it has no military solution. The vote was 13-0, with Russia and China abstaining.

In the years after the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi, Libya has sunk further into turmoil and is now divided between two rival administrations, based in the country's east and west, with an array of fighters and militias, backed by various foreign powers, allied with each side.

The resolution's approval follows a recent report by U.N. experts monitoring sanctions on Libya that accused its warring parties and their international backers of violating the arms embargo, saying it remains "totally ineffective."

The resolution also extended U.N.'s political mission in Libya, or UNSMIL, until next September and stressed its "central role in facilitating a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned inclusive political process and in achieving a lasting cease-fire."

The job of former U.N. special representative Ghassan Salame, who resigned in March, has been split into two, as the United States demanded, putting a special envoy in charge of UNSMIL to focus on mediating with Libyan and international parties to end the conflict, with a coordinator in charge of day-to-day operations.

The U.S. demand held up a replacement for Salame and the resolution asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a special envoy "without delay."

Tensions in oil-rich Libya escalated further when Libyan national Army east-based forces, under commander Khalifa Hafter, launched an offensive in April 2019 trying to capture the capital, Tripoli. But Hafter's campaign collapsed in June when militias backing the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli, with Turkish support, gained the upper hand, driving his forces from the outskirts of the capital and other western towns.

The U.N. resolution called on all parties "to commit without delay to a lasting cease-fire and political dialogue under the leadership" of the new special envoy. It condemned "the forced shutdown of oil facilities," reiterating that "Libya's oil resources are for the benefit of all Libyans" and that the government in Tripoli "retains sole oversight over Libya's economic and financial institutions."

The resolution also expresses "grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation," including insufficient basic services, the plight of migrants, refugees and Libyans displaced in the country, and reports of sexual and gender-based violence. It calls on Libyan authorities to take steps to close detention centers and speed delivery of services throughout the country.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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