New UN envoy touches down in Tripoli for first talks in Libya

By Libya Herald reporter.

Salame Serraj

New UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé with Faiez Serraj (Photo: PC media)

Tunis, 5 August 2017:

In his first visit to Libya, the new UN special envoy Ghassan Salamé has held talks in Tripoli with Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj as well as a number of key political players. Both Salamé and Serraj later described their discussions as constructive.

“I assume my role with the utmost respect for the national sovereignty, independence and unity of Libya,” Salamé, who formally took up his post at the beginning of the month, told reporters at joint press conference after the meeting. He added that he had no illusions about the challenges ahead “but I am optimistic that Libya can emerge from this crisis and soon,” he added

His objective, he said, was to move the political process forward, and quickly.

“The time factor is very important here. Every passing day without a political agreement has negative security, economic and social consequences for Libyans,” he stated.

For his part, Serraj called for UNSMIL to shift from being a political missions to one driven by the need to find stability. He also urged UNSMIL to return to operating out of Libya as soon as possible.

“We agreed that there is a need more than ever to reach an urgent solution to the crisis in Libya, so that we can end the suffering of Libyans,” Serraj said.

“We believe that the Libyan Political Agreement is the basis of any dialogue. It is important to step forward and complete what we started,” he added.

Serraj said the UN played a crucial, specialised role in supporting displaced people, reconstruction and aiding in the provision of basic services.

Salamé’s talks with Serraj as well as with PC foreign minister Mohamed Siala touched on the security, political and economic issues affecting Libya.

“We will work with Libyans and for them so that the coming year will be a year of building stable, effective and productive institutions,” Salamé said.

Following the talks with Serraj and Siala, Salamé met with other active PC members – Ahmed Maetig, Ahmed Hamza, Abdulsalam Kajman, Mohamed Al-Amari and Fathi Majbri. Little was revealed about the talks, although Maetig said the PC members wished Salamé “every success in his task”.

Salamé, who has also worked as an academic, moved on to the University of Tripoli where he spoke to students and activists. “You have defended the university’s sanctity. Whoever defends the sanctity of a university, defends the sanctity of a nation,” he told them.

“You defended Libya’s unity through the establishment of the Student Union, which includes all universities across Libya. You have defended democracy through the free election of a Union chief. I congratulate you on those achievements,” he added.

Finally, the new UN envoy met with State Council chief Abdulrahman Sewehli. Both agreed the Libyan Political Agreement remained the basis for a solution, a State Council statement said.

His next stop is Tobruk to meet with members of the House of Representatives and its president Ageela Saleh.

At this point in time, it is unclear if he will see Khalifa Hafter.

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