Libya: UN Chief appoints Lebanese scholar Ghassan Salame as UNSMIL Head

UN Secretary General has confirmed Ghassan Salamé, a Lebanese scholar and Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs, as the new head of UNSMIL, in replacement of German veteran diplomat Martin Kobler.

Salamé is not a new name in the circle of the UN Secretariat. The 66-year old man previously worked with former Ghanaian and Korean UN Secretaries, Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon, as their special advisor on the Middle East.

The former Lebanese minister of culture (2000-2003) is said to have won the trust of all Libyan opposing sides.

He was the 29th candidate approached for the tough UN job in Libya. All other candidates turned down the mission they deemed ‘impossible’.

Libya has descended into chaos following removal and death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 in a NATO-backed revolution.

The country has fallen in the hands of factions vying for power with the support of foreign states, racing for the country’s oil.

Libya has had two opposed administrations holding up the political process. The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in place in Tripoli has been unable to impose itself. The unity government has been rejected by the Eastern government supported by the country’s internationally recognized parliament; the House of Representatives (HoR).

Kobler is expected to quit his position this month. Appointed in November 2015, the German diplomat succeeded in bringing to the negotiation table a group of rivals who signed in Morocco in December the Libya Political Accord (LPA).

The German diplomat has been accused by Libyans of imposing foreign agendas on them and of favoring one side.

Salamé, board member of numerous international organizations and institutions, including the International Crisis Group, the International Peace Institute, the Open Society Foundations and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, will fully assume office after the HoR, the GNA and the State Council approve his nomination.

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