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UN envoy says Non-compliance with arms embargo risky to Libya’s political progress

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya and Head of UNSMIL, Jan Kubis, pointed to renewed hope for peace in the conflict-affected country, and stability across the wider region, in a briefing to the Security Council on Friday.

Kubis outlined progress made since the agreement of a ceasefire in October 2020, the launch of a Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and the start of a process of reunifying its State institutions, calling for all parties to redouble their commitment to Libya’s peace process and stay on the course ahead of critical elections in December.

“Confidence-building among the parties continues notwithstanding occasional clashes between armed groups. In recent months, hundreds of prisoners and detainees were released by both sides, with releases taking place almost weekly in different parts of the country during the month of Ramadan.” Kubis underscored.

He reiterated that efforts also continue toward deploying UNSMIL monitors in support of the Libyan-led and Libyan-owned Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism. However, progress on key issues such as the reopening of a main coastal road and the withdrawal of foreign mercenaries and foreign fighters – laid out in the October ceasefire agreement and endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 2570 (2021) – has been stalled.

Kubis explained that a recent report of the panel of experts painted a bleak picture of non-compliance with Libya’s arms embargo, adding that it is up to the Libyan authorities and institutions to use the opportunities of the newly regained nascent unity and sovereignty to continue the political transition.

Outlining progress made in preparing for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 24 December, including the production of 2.3 million voter cards, Kubis said many steps remain on that route, adding that the House of Representatives has the responsibility to clarify the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral legislation by 1 July, allowing the country’s High National Elections Commission enough time to prepare ahead of voting.

A draft legislation on direct presidential elections is ready to be presented to the House of Representatives, according to its Speaker Aqila Saleh, yet Kubis warned that election preparations will be futile if the law is not adopted.

In the meantime, Kubis indicated that as Libya continues along the road towards elections and institution-building, the presence and activities of thousands of mercenaries, foreign fighters and armed groups remains a critical threat – not just to Libya, but to the wider region.

Kubis cited to the Security Council recent violent incidents in Chad, including clashes with armed groups that killed the country’s President, Idriss Déby, in April. 

“The high mobility of terrorists and armed groups, as well as the movement of migrants and refugees trafficked across porous borders by organized criminal networks, all increase the risk of instability. Foreign fighters and armed groups with origins in the region must be withdrawn in an orderly fashion, accompanied by disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes and coupled with efforts to address the root causes of conflict.” Kubis said.

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