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UN calls for Libya arms embargo to continue

Libyan Security Forces who are masked and holding weapons [File Photo]
Masked Libyan Security Forces holding weapons [File Photo]

The United Nations special envoy to Libya has called for the international embargo on the export of arms to Libya to continue.

Speaking to the UN Security Council through video link from Tunisia, Ghassan Salame highlighted how “the international arms embargo has never been more important than ever” in a country that “has more than 20 million weapons”.

In March 2011 the Security Council (SC) issued resolution 1970, in which it called on all member states “to prevent the sale or supply of arms and related materials to Libya”. Last June the SC extended the ban for a year due to “armed entities fighting” throughout the country.

Libya has been under an arms embargo since March 2011 after the uprising a month earlier that eventually overthrew long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Read: Libya destroys last of its Gaddafi-era chemical weapons

Salame added that the UN was ready to “increase its presence and the number of its staff in the UN mission in Tripoli and work from there, provided that the security conditions allow it”.

Salame explained his absence from the SC meeting was due to the recent unrest in Tripoli where clashes at the airport stalled all flights this week.

On the political process SC members were told that “elections in Libya, before the end of this year, cannot be held before a clear course is agreed upon by all parties”. The UN envoy further pledged that “the United Nations will work very hard to ensure that the key actors are not marginalised in political dialogue”.

Salame also identified three main axes that the United Nations will pursue in Libya: finalising the new constitution, achieving national reconciliation and holding free elections this year.

Two governments are currently fighting for legitimacy in Libya, one of which is the internationally recognised and UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli, led by Presidency Council head Fayez Al-Sarraj. The other is the interim government in the city of Al-Bayda with the House of Representatives in the city of Tobruk, which is affiliated with military strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Both Al-Sarraj and Haftar have called on the UN to lift the embargo.

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