Guterres calls for calm in Libya amid political strife

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for calm in libya amid the political strife during a phone call with Fathi Bashagha, one of the two competing Prime Ministers in the country.

The House of Representatives withdrew confidence from Prime Minister Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah’s Government of National Unity in September 2021, reports Xinhua news agency.

On March 1, the House of Representatives held a vote of confidence on a new government led by Bashagha and swore in the new government two days later.

Dbeibah has rejected the legitimacy of the March 1 vote and said he will only transfer power to an elected government.

Guterres on March 2 voiced concern over reports that the vote fell short of the expected standards of transparency and procedures and included acts of intimidation prior to the session.

In the phone call, the Secretary-general and Bashagha discussed the latest developments in Libya, said Stephane Dujarric, Guterres’ spokesman.

Guterres expressed deep concern at the ongoing political polarization in Libya, which carries significant risks for Libya’s hard-won stability.

“The Secretary-General stressed the need for all actors to preserve calm and stability on the ground, while reiterating the UN’s firm rejection for the use of violence, intimidation and hate speech,” said Dujarric.

Guterres added that the current stalemate required urgent dialogue to find a consensual way forward and reiterated his full support to mediation efforts carried out by his special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, said the spokesman.

Guterres held a phone call with Dbeibah on March 5. Guterres initiated both calls, said Dujarric.

But the spokesman said Thursday’s call does not mean the Secretary-General is recognizing Bashagha’s premiership.

“We are not in the business of recognizing other countries. What the secretary-general recognizes is that there is a situation in Libya, with competing claims to the authority, with a great risk of things going backward. So he is supporting Stephanie Williams. Our effort is to ensure that Libya does not go back,” said Dujarric.

“What we have said is that Williams has offered her good offices, is trying to bring the parties together, so that the solution is one that is supported by the Libyan people where political decisions on leadership are agreed upon through transparent and accountable processes. But it’s not about the secretary-general choosing favourites, far from it,” he said.

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