Libyan government calls UN advisor biased, US embassy defends her

The spokesman for the Government of National Unity, Mohammed Hammouda, criticized last Thursday the position of the Advisor of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Stephanie Williams, saying that her support for the stances of certain parties which are wishing to postpone elections and extend their mandates contradicted her statements in support of holding elections as soon as possible in Libya.

Williams is Biased

Hammouda said that the recent statements by Williams showed a kind of bias that should not be practiced by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), adding that such a behavior would affect the stability of the country, indicating that Williams said on January 30 in a press statement, that the political class in Libya must stop what she called the game of musical chairs to stay in power, and focus instead on preparing for the elections”.

The spokesman added that Libyans see such statements similar to the attempts of the dominant political class to disrupt elections and deprive  2.8 million Libyans, who desired elections, of their dream, which was stopped by the same parties that made “the extension decision” that Williams supported by contradicting her statements.

Hammouda stressed that such confusion in statements does not help support stability in Libya, and could fuel the political dispute, paving the way for the return of chaos, division, and the complete opposite of what was achieved in the unification of institutions and the establishment of stability at this stage.

Twisted Agenda

The government’s spokesman reiterated that Williams should have protected the UN-brokered political agreement, which she was supervising, from violations, saying Williams should also have looked for the implementation and respect of the agreement, not dealing with the derailing efforts that threaten to put the country back on the track of division and chaos.

“We hope that Williams won’t give an opportunity to voices accusing the UNSMIL of siding with a party over another since the launch of the political dialogue in 2020.  We trust in the UNSMIL’s ability to control its work in the service of its international tasks and reputation.” He added.

US Embassy Defends Its Own

The US embassy in Libya said on Twitter last Thursday that it regreted the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Mohammed Hammouda, suggesting that the UN Special Advisor Stephanie Williams was displaying bias, adding that no international public servant has been more scrupulously even-handed in bringing all Libyan voices to the table in the effort to restore stability to Libya than Williams.

The US embassy said that the approach UNSMIL has adopted with respect to recent developments has stressed respect for Libyan institutions and processes, while calling for remaining differences to be resolved through exclusively peaceful negotiations.

The statement indicated that Williams is helping to broker negotiations and that the approach of the Special Advisor and of UNSMIL to the current circumstances have been consistent with the core tenets of UN Security Council resolutions and the outcomes of international meetings on Libya, saying that Washington shares UNSMIL’s dedicated focus on helping Libyans to establish a credible timeline for elections as soon as possible in line with the aspirations of the Libyan people.

Meeting Dbeibah’s Rivals

The whole give-and-take situation started when the UN Advisor met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) Aqila Saleh and said on Twitter that she took note of the Speaker’s explanation on the HoR’s mechanism to grant confidence to the new Government, headed by Fathi Bashagha, in keeping with the procedures implemented in the March 2021 confidence vote – which says that Dbeibah is no longer the PM.

Williams also held a meeting with Bashagha and discussed with him the latest developments and the vote that made him a PM with a mission to form a new government to replace Debibah’s government, which sparked the whole controversy that led to the accusations by Dbeibah’s government to Williams of being biased to Bashagha and his coalition that includes HoR Speaker Saleh, Khalifa Haftar and the Head of the High Council of State, Khalid Al-Mishri, who so far had been sending mixed signals, once approving of Bashagha as PM and in other times saying the HoR vote to appoint him wasn’t final.


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