Williams ends Libya mission, accuses politicians of being ‘opportunistic’

The United Nations announced that longtime US diplomat Stephanie Williams will step down as the UN secretary-general’s special adviser on Libya on Sunday.

She will leave her post amid renewed tensions in the North African country divided between rival administrations in the east and west and questions over her successor.

In her last statement, Williams touched on her relationship with Libyan politicians, pointing out that she warned everyone after the postponement of elections in 2021 that the political class was seeking powerful positions rather than leading Libya to elections.

She described Libyan politicians as “opportunistic and pursuing their own interests”.

She added in an interview with al-Hadath TV on Saturday that the recent protests in the country were a reaction to the failure of politicians to reach consensus on a constitutional framework for the elections because some people “hijacked the political future of Libya”.

“We are trying, as soon as possible, to have at least one interim person appointed to do the kind of work that Williams was doing, but then I don’t have anyone to appoint for you,” deputy spokesman for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq told reporters during a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York on Saturday.

Libyan Renewal Party leader Suleiman al-Bayoudi expected the UN secretary-general to announce Williams’ successor soon, noting that he “enjoys the support of major countries, who have accepted his nomination. in principle”.

He stressed that the new envoy’s plan will focus on holding elections, adding that his appointment could coincide with a limited upsurge in violence.

On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) by three months, amid local and international condemnation of this short period and its impact on the extent to which the mission could fulfill its tasks.

UNSMIL is working, Haq stressed, noting that the officer in charge of this mission is the same as before, namely Raisedon Zenenga, and that he will therefore continue to be the officer in charge until someone else be named.

Asked if UN chief Antonio Guterres has any comments on Williams, Haq said, “She did an amazing job. In fact, at the UN, we were hoping that we could continue to extend her mandate beyond the end of July, but it turns out that she has other commitments.

“We will continue to search for a successor and build on her achievements, and you are well aware of the enormous work she has done to ensure that Libya would have unified institutions and its organs would work together.”

“There continue to be hiccups in this effort,” he noted.

Williams worked in Libya for about four and a half years during which she was appointed to represent Guterres as deputy special representative for political affairs at UNSMIL, succeeding Ghassan Salame.

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