Libya: Kobler Denied Landing in Tobruk

Head of UNSMIL Martin Kobler’s authority is increasingly waning in the East of Libya as on Wednesday the UN veteran diplomat was denied landing in Tobruk, the seat of the Libyan internationally recognized parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR).

Kobler’s UN aircraft flying from Tunis was refused landing in the eastern town and had to fly to Rome where the UN official held talks with Italian foreign minister, Libya Herald reports.

The German diplomat condemned the move and said it complicated the UN mission in the North African country.

“Without access [to] our Libyan partners we cannot assist. Access is particularly necessary for UN colleagues working on humanitarian and development files. How can we help the Libyan people in the east?” he wrote on social media.

The east-based parliament has accused the Head of the UN mission for meddling in Libyan affairs. The HoR has repeatedly refused to recognize the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) birthed from the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Morocco in December 2015.

The HoR has also opposed the LPA, which grants military supervision to Faiez Serraj, nominal Prime Minister leading the GNA from Tripoli.

HoR President Ageela Saleh claimed on Tuesday that the British ambassador to Libya Peter Millett had told him he agreed with him that Kobler should leave his role as envoy, Libyan Herald notes.

The German diplomat has lost the trust of Libyan officials in the East. It was reported that Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar aligned with the HoR in December dismissed an invitation to meet Kobler. The Libyan army official claimed that meeting would be “a waste of time”.

In it is not the first time Kobler is being refused landing in hostile camp. In March last year before GNA’s arrival in Tripoli, his plane was denied landing by then Tripoli strongman; Khalifa Ghwell. Ghwell’s National Salvation Government had said that Kobler only wanted to pave the way for the GNA’s arrival.

In January 2016, a press conference by Kobler at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport was interrupted by Ghwell’s head of foreign media department, Jamal Zubia. Zubia claimed that Kobler did not ask permission. Zubia also threatened to sue journalists who attended the press conference.

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