Lebanon’s Ghassan Salamé now seen as favourite to replace Kobler

By Libya Herald reporter.

Ghassan Salamé

Tunis, 14 June 2107:

Paris-based Lebanese academic Ghassan Salamé is the front-runner to replace current UN special envoy Martin Kobler when he leaves the job at the end of the month, high-level diplomatic sources say.

According to one diplomat, Salamé, a former Lebanese government minister, is the favourite out of four candidates. His name as Kobler’s successor was apparently run past UN-backed Prime Minister Faiez Serraj some days ago to ensure no objections.

Those who matter in the UN believe Salamé is “the right man for the job”, another diplomat told the Libya Herald, and that he now had all the necessary approvals behind the scenes.

A board member of the International Crisis Group, the International Peace Institute and various other organisations, Salamé was Lebanon’s culture minister from 2000 to 2003 and then served as a senior advisor to both Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon when they were UN secretary-generals. He  was also political adviser to the UN mission in Iraq.  He is currently head of the Paris School of International Affairs.

Salame is understood to be the 29th person to be offered the job. “No one want to do it,” explained one diplomatic source. “They see it as an impossible task.”

An announcement about the successor may come as soon as this week. Last night, a farewell dinner was held in Tunis for Kobler who had already indicated his departure earlier in the day.

Rumours have been rife throughout the year as to Kobler’s replacement, with some recent reports suggesting current UN-envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed would take up the role. He was a deputy special envoy to Libya and head of UNDP in the country, serving under both Tarek Mitri of Lebanon and Bernardino Leon.

However, according to House of Representatives member Abubakr Buera, who was also a member of the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue, Ahmed “does not enjoy the support and support that Ghassan Salama has in the various Libyan circles”.

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