UAE appeals for 'unity' and 'restraint' amid Libya’s political crisis

Tension over Libya’s duelling prime ministers could send country back into chaos and bloodshed

People protest against the naming of new interim prime minister Fathi Bashagha in Tripoli. AP
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UAE diplomat Mohamed Abushahab on Wednesday pushed for “restraint” to help "unity" in Libya, where a political crisis threatens to send the country back into warfare and division.

Mr Abushahab, the UAE's deputy ambassador to the UN, said Libyan politicians should eschew “partisan interests and disputes” and instead focus on “national reconciliation” to avoid the country spiralling back into parallel governments.

He addressed the Security Council against a backdrop of tension in Libya, where the collapse of planned elections in December dented hopes of reunifying the country after more than a decade of instability following the 2011 Nato-backed uprising.

“All concerned parties should exercise restraint and avoid taking any measures that may undermine the progress made in resolving the Libyan crisis,” Mr Abushahab told the UN's top body in New York.

“This would maintain the country's unity and its national institutions away from any partisan interests and disputes.”

He also called for “concrete steps to unify the Libyan military and security institutions”, which have for years been splintered between rival factions, and avoid a “security vacuum” that allows ISIS terrorists to regroup.

Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, the embattled prime minister for Libya’s unity government, has vowed to hang on to office in the capital, Tripoli, despite Parliament swearing in a rival government earlier this month.

The UN’s political chief Rosemary DiCarlo said armed factions for the rival camps were mobilising in and around Tripoli and that the crisis over executive power in Libya could lead to instability and parallel governments.

“Libya is now facing a new phase of political polarisation, which risks dividing its institutions once again and reversing the gains achieved over the past two years,” Ms DiCarlo told diplomats.

The UN and western powers have avoided backing either Mr Dbeibah or his Parliament-appointed rival, Fathi Bashagha, and are instead pushing for new elections as a way to ease tension.

The UN has asked political bodies to join a committee to resolve constitutional and legal questions that led to the collapse of December's planned vote.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq on Wednesday said he hoped the committee would begin work before the start of Ramadan, early next month.

The UAE and four other nations joined the UN Security Council for two-year terms beginning in January, meaning they can take part in meetings, vote on resolutions and share the rotating presidency of the 15-nation body.

Updated: March 16, 2022, 6:20 PM