file photo:United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres.AFP
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has again urged countries to withdraw all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, saying they continue to operate throughout the conflict-stricken North African country in violation of last October’s cease-fire agreement “with no discernible abatement of their activities.”
In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres also urged Libyan parties “to exert every effort to ensure” that parliamentary and presidential elections are held on 24 December in accordance with the political road map that ended hostilities last year.
Guterres cited initial differences over whether presidential elections should be carried out by direct voting or indirectly by the elected parliament, whether a referendum on the draft permanent constitution should be held first, and eligibility criteria for candidates including military personnel and dual citizens.
The UN chief urged the parties and institutions to clarify the constitutional basis for elections and to adopt the necessary electoral laws.
“The political process is now reaching a critical stage and the gains achieved in early 2021 are under threat,” Guterres warned. “It is imperative that the political process fulfills the aspirations of the Libyan people for representative governance brought about through democratic elections.”
In July, UN Special Envoy for Libya Jan Kubis accused “spoilers” of trying to obstruct the holding of December’s crucial elections to unify the divided nation. He told the Security Council that many key players in Libya reiterated their commitment to the elections, but “I am afraid many of them are not ready to walk the talk.”
Guterres quoted Kubis’ warning that the continued presence of thousands of mercenaries and numerous foreign fighters remains a significant threat not only to the security of Libya but to the region.
The UN chief also warned that the presence and activities of violent extremist organisations including affiliates of Al-Qaida and ISIS extremist group “were reported in all regions, including in the form of direct threats against civilians and United Nations personnel and attacks against security forces.”