Former Lebanese minister appointed Head of UNSMIL

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LIBYA

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed a former Lebanese minister as the new head of the UN Special Mission in Libya.

Ghassan Salame, a former Culture minister of Lebanon, will also be a special delegate to Libya. He replaces German diplomat Martin Kobler.

The appointment of the new special envoy was however far from straightforward.

The search for Kobler’s successor began in February when UN Secretary General Guterres proposed former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for the job.

The US, under newly elected president Trump, however rejected him because of his nationality. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the UN had been “unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”

Guterres said this was a blow for the quest for stability in Libya, describing the U.S. rejection as “a loss for the Libyan peace process and for the Libyan people.”

Following that, Russia and other council members then rejected a British candidate and an American candidate. So the UN effort in the country was once again hampered by personnel problems.

Libyan academic and politician, Guma El-Gamaty believes the issue could be the UN itself – saying the United Nations is only as good as the countries it is made up of. He doesn’t believe its envoys will succeed until the most powerful and influential countries come together with the will to agree and implement common solutions. In the meantime Libya continues to be dogged by civil war.