UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame resigns, cites health reasons

Ghassan Salame, U.N. Libya envoy, arrives for a meeting in Tunis, Tunisia September 26, 2017. Image courtesy: Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi
UN Photo/Violaine Martin
Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya 

The UN envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, said on Monday he was stepping down due to health reasons.

His resignation comes amid an escalation in fighting in the country, and just days after he announced the near breakdown of a shaky cease-fire between the country’s two rival governments.

“I tried to unite Libyans and restrain foreign interference… but for health reasons I can no longer continue with this level of stress and therefore I have asked the (UN) secretary-general to relieve me of my duties,” Salame wrote on twitter.

A former Lebanese culture minister, Salame took office in July 2017. He was brought on as part of the UN effort to bring an end to years of turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, which left Libya divided between rival governments and beset by violence.

During his tenure, Salame was involved in mediating three-tiered talks between Libya’s warring sides on economic, political and military matters.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was aware of the resignation.

“The secretary-general has always had full confidence in Mr Salame’s work and the great efforts he has made to bring peace to Libya… (and) will be discussing with Mr Salame the way to ensure smooth transition so as not to lose any momentum on the gains that have been made,” Dujarric said.