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Libyan faction demands explanation from UN over envoy
Libya's Islamist authorities have demanded an explanation from the UN's secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, after the Guardian revealed that the UN envoy to their country had accepted a job from the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE - the federation of seven absolute monarchies dominated by oil-rich Abu Dhabi - backs the Islamists' main political rival, the internationally recognised government.
The Islamist-backed government, which is based in Tripoli, said the UAE's hiring of Bernardino León to lead a state-backed thinktank cast doubt on the UN envoy's credibility.
He has urged Libya's two rival governments to back his proposals for a national unity government after months of talks. The Tripoli faction said the revelations "threatens to destroy the political track during this sensitive time".
On Wednesday, the Guardian quoted an email from León to the UAE foreign minister saying he had a strategy to "completely delegitimise" the Islamist-backed government. The email came from León's personal account five months after he was appointed envoy.
Emails seen by the Guardian show that León was offered the role of director-general of the UAE thinktank in June, a move followed up by talks about increasing his housing allowance a month later. In August he said he would be travelling with his family to settle in Abu Dhabi.
León, a Spanish diplomat and former foreign minister, said on Thursday that he saw no conflict of interest and that the proposed Libya peace agreement was unbiased. However, he admitted: "The appearances are not good."
The UN said on Wednesday that León would be replaced in the coming days by German diplomat Martin Kobler. It is not clear how long León will remain in his post. He is due to start his UAE role in December.
In its letter to Ban, the Islamist-backed government said Leon's hiring by the UAE "constitutes a disregard to the lives and sacrifices that the Libyan people have offered" since the uprising. Libya's ambassador to the UN said a national unity government could be formed before the end of November.
Ali Tekbali, an influential member of Libya's internationally recognised government based in the country's east, said UN talks with the Islamist authorities would resume under Kobler's leadership at the end of this month.
Saad Abusharrada, a popular member of the Islamist-backed administration who supports the talks, said the León developments were not likely to affect the negotiations.
Ban's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, replied to questions about the ethics of León's actions by saying that the envoy's work spoke for itself.
Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
[Source: By Chris Johnston, The Guardian, London, 06Nov15]
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