By Jamie Prentis.
Tunis, 8 August 2017:
The new UN envoy Ghassan Salamé has said that it would be unrealistic to ignore Khalifa Hafter when discussing Libya’s future. Speaking in Rome today, Salamé also pointed out that Hafter was appointed by the House of Representatives.
However, Salamé said that while Hafter clearly enjoyed a solid following he did not have the right to decide who should play a political role in Libya’s future, even if the Libyan National Army chief had his own political and military ambitions.
Salamé was speaking to reporters alongside Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano in Rome after talks they held today. It was his official first visit in Europe since taking office.
Alfano said now was the time for the UN to take the lead in Libya. He described the situation as being far too many negotiations but no results. This is where the UN could help, Alfano said.
“The United Nations must take the leadership in negotiations because, up to now, there have been too many negotiations, too many negotiators and zero final results.”
He added: “The Libyan dossier must be a top priority on the international political agenda.”
The issue of Italian navy vessels entering Libyan waters to help anti-migration efforts was also looked at by the two.
Italy has often sought to take the lead in Libya, but was annoyed by the move by ofFrench President Emmanuel Macron in bringing together Khalifa Hafter and Presidency Council head Faiez Serraj in Paris.
Salamé then moved onto to talks with Italian Prime Minister Paulo Gentiloni. Though little was revealed about their meeting, UNSMIL said Salamé insisted that Libya’s political process had to be Libyan-led but that the UN would continue to work alongside the country’s political players and representatives based on their views.