The United Nations’ envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame has announced his resignation from his position because of stress, after leading the peace process in Libya for three years.
In a tweet on Monday, Salame said the level of pressure from the role had a negative impact on his health.
“I have sought for two years and more to reunite Libyans and curb outside intervention and to preserve the unity of the country […] I admit that my health no longer allows for this pace of stress,” Tweeted Salame. “So, I asked the [UN] Secretary-General to relieve me of my mission in the hope of peace and stability for Libya.’’
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ receipt of Salame’s resignation letter.
“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 a smooth transition so as not to lose any momentum on the gains that have been made,” Dujarric said.
Just a week prior to Salame’s resignation, the former envoy brought together representatives of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the General Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA) based in Benghazi in Geneva for peace negotiations. The meeting did not lead to tangible progress.
The two conflicting parties supported by foreign states. Turkey and Qatar back the GNA forces, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, while the LNA receives support from Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Libya has been experiencing political fluctuations and economic collapse – despite being oil-rich – since the 2011 armed uprising that led to the ousting of the 40-year ruler, Muammar Al Gaddafi.
Salame’s mission has been plagued with difficulties. Not least, the LNA offensive against the capital, Tripoli. The assault killed hundreds and forced many to be internally displaced.
The former Lebanese minister of culture has strived to bring amendments to the December 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), signed in Morocco’s Skhirat. After failing to do so, Salame replaced the treaty with the Three Track approach, known as the Libyan peace process.
The peace process – which LNA and GNA adhered to – consisted of a ceasefire, stopping the flow of arms into the southern Mediterranean country, and establishing economic, military, and political tracks.
His resignation comes amid an escalation in fighting, and just days after he announced the near breakdown of a cease-fire between the country’s opposing governments as Haftar’s forces move toward Tripoli.
With a freeze in mediation between the opposing sides, Libya is now left to face its own destiny, pending the appointment of a new UN’s envoy. A possible escalation of tensions in Libya cannot be ruled out.