UN peace envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame has stepped down from the post, complaining of stress from the job and his failed efforts to “restrain foreign interference” into the North African oil exporter.
Salame, the Lebanese academic who represents UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres in Libya, said on Monday that he was stepping down due to ill health and the “level of stress” after nearly three years in an often-thankless job.
“I tried to unite the Libyans and restrain foreign interference,” Salame told his 262,000 Twitter followers. “But for health reasons I can no longer continue with this level of stress and therefore I have asked the secretary-general to relieve me of my duties.”
Libya’s conflict has raged despite Salame’s continued efforts to broker ceasefires — a task he says was made harder by Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Turkey, and others sending arms, troops and other support to both sides in the conflict.
UN chief Guterres “appreciated all the work [Salame] had done at the helm of the mission in very difficult times” and for “bringing the parties together” in peace talks, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York on Monday.
“The most important thing now is to work on the transition and make sure no momentum is lost.”
It remains unclear who will replace the UN’s envoy to Libya. Asked whether Salame had informed his boss before tweeting out his resignation missive, Dujaric said: “That was the first we heard of it.”
Since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: one in the east supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and others and another in the capital Tripoli, in the west, which enjoys UN recognition.
Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is based in the east, launched an offensive to take Tripoli last April, which led to chaos and bloodshed but stalled on the outskirts of the city.
By James Reinl in New York