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UAE rejects proposed appointee for new UN envoy to Libya

June 29, 2022 at 1:34 pm

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on April 26, 2022 [Russian Foreign Ministr/Anadolu Agency]

The UAE has rejected a proposal submitted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to appoint Algeria’s former Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum as the UN envoy to Libya. The rejection was voiced at a session of the UN Security Council.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), a diplomatic source said that several countries, especially France and Ghana, stressed during the session on Monday evening that the position should be filled “as soon as possible”. It has been vacant since last November.

The Security Council has only extended the mandate of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) for short periods since late last year. Each only lasted a few months due to the mission’s failure caused particularly by the council’s disagreement over the new envoy. The current mandate of UNSMIL ends on 31 July.

Guterres proposed to the fifteen members of the Security Council last week to appoint diplomat Boukadoum — his country’s former representative at the UN in New York — as the envoy to Libya. A diplomat told AFP that only the UAE rejected the proposal. The UAE is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and currently represents the Arab Group there.

According to several other diplomats, the UAE claimed during the session that “Arab countries and Libyan parties expressed their opposition” to the appointment of Boukadoum as the envoy to Libya. The sources did not specify the states or parties in question. One of them only pointed out that there was a “regional concern” about his appointment, especially as Algeria has a border with Libya. If Boukadoum is appointed, it is claimed that he will have an “impossible task”.

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No state government or, indeed, any party in Libya has objected officially since the disclosure that Boukadoum was being considered for the role of envoy.

The US opposed the appointment of diplomat Ramtane Lamamra as a UN envoy to Libya before entrusting the task to former Slovakian Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš. He resigned in November 2021 and was succeeded by American Stephanie Williams, who will leave her position on 30 June.

It is no secret that the UAE is adopting a hostile policy against Algeria, and offers explicit support to the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, which Algeria opposes. The government in Algiers has criticised the UAE’s role in the disputed territory, not least its opening of a consulate in Laayoune, even though there are no UAE citizens in Western Sahara.

Algeria has also criticised the UAE’s normalisation of relations with the occupation state of Israel. “Algeria rejects normalisation and does not bless the rush to it,” said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, has criticised the Western countries that, according to him, seek to remain in control of the Libyan file.