United Nations (UN) secretary-general, António Guterres, yesterday announced the designation of Stephanie Turco Williams as the new Acting Special Representative in Libya and the Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) until the appointment of a successor to the recently-resigned Ghassan Salamé.
“Ms. Williams will act as Special Representative until the appointment of a successor to Salamé,” Guterres was quoted in the statement as saying.
Salamé – a Lebanese appointed in 2017 who had struggled to organize elections and bring rival parties together for talks to end the conflict – submitted his resignation on 2 March for “health reasons,” according to media sources.
Guterres noted that he was “grateful for Salame’s accomplishments at the helm of UNSMIL and his tireless efforts to restore peace and stability in Libya.
Williams, the statement pointed out, was bringing 24 years of experience in government and international affairs, adding that she had served in UNSMIL as Deputy Special Representative (Political) since 2018. “Before that appointment, she served as Chargée d’Affaires at the Embassy of the United States in Tripoli,” the statement said.
The American representative was said to have also held other diplomatic positions, including Deputy Chief of Mission at the US missions in Iraq (2016-2017), Jordan (2013-2015) and Bahrain (2010-2013), where she led the Embassy as Chargée d’Affaires for ten months.
“Williams also served as a senior adviser on Syria and at her country’s embassies in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Pakistan,” the UN noted.
The statement continued that Williams had served as the Desk Officer for Jordan, Deputy Director of Egypt and Levant Affairs, and Director of the Maghreb Office as the US Department of State. She holds a master’s degree in Arab studies from Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, where she earned a master’s in national security studies in 2008. “She is a career Middle East specialist and Arabic speaker,” the UN said.
Diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that Guterres had informally consulted with some council members about appointing the 68-year-old former Algerian foreign minister Ramtane Lamamra as his new Libya envoy, but the decision has not been formally made yet.
Libya has faced internal strife since the 2011 uprising that ousted long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi, and the latest round of violence began last year when eastern-based forces started to advance on the capital Tripoli.