On Saturday, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, announced the appointment of former Senegalese Minister and UN diplomat, Abdoulaye Bathily, to be the new UN Envoy to Libya after the Security Council gave its approval.
The UN Secretary General’s decision to appoint Bathily as the UN Envoy came after a nine-month search amid increasing chaos in the oil-rich North African nation.
Libya’s transitional government, which opposed Bathily’s nomination, reportedly sent a protest letter to Guterres. This raised questions about how effective the new Envoy can be in trying to resolve the country’s political and economic crisis.
The last UN Special Representative, Ján Kubiš, resigned on November 23rd, 2021, after 10 months on the job, and a number of candidates proposed by Guterres were rejected by council members, Libya, or neighbouring countries.
In December, Guterres appointed veteran American diplomat, Stephanie Williams, a former UN Deputy Special Representative in Libya, as his Special Adviser — a job that did not require council approval.
She left at the end of July. Since then the mission had no leader as Libyans grapple with a constitutional and political crisis.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011. The county has for years been split between rival administrations, each backed by rogue militias and foreign governments.
UN Political Chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, warned that the failure to resolve Libya’s political crisis the delay in elections poses a growing threat in the country, pointing to recent violent clashes that killed at least 42 people and injured 159 others, according to Libyan authorities.
The current stalemate grew out of the failure to hold elections in December and the refusal of Prime Minister Abdelhamid Al-Dbaiba, who led the transitional government, to step down. In response, the country’s East-based Parliament appointed a rival Prime Minister, Fathi Bashagha, who has for months sought to install his government in Tripoli.
Guterres said Bathily brings 40 years of experience to the job of Special Representative and Head of Libya’s UN political mission.
He held various ministerial positions in Senegal, taught history for more than 30 years at the Universite Cheikh Anta Diop in the country, held senior UN positions including in Mali and Central Africa, and served as the independent expert for the strategic review of the Libya mission in 2021.
Bathily has a Ph.D. from the Universite Cheikh Anta Diop and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom and is fluent in English, French, Soninke, and Wolof.