Libya: UN Envoy Ghassan Salame steps down on health grounds

UN Special Envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame Monday resigned from his position citing health issues, two years and a half after his appointment.

“My health no longer allows this rate of stress,” the Lebanese UN official said in a statement.

“So I asked the Secretary-General to relieve me from my mission, wishing Libya peace and stability.”

Salame since his appointment has tried in vain to unify Libyans who fell apart following the removal of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-led uprising in 2011.

The oil-rich North African country is ruled by two rival administrations: the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the east-based administration of retired Gen. Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar since April last year has been pushing to seize capital Tripoli from the GNA that he accuses of housing terrorists and being controlled by Muslim Brotherhoods. Thousands have been killed in the offensive by the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

Over the weekend, UN Secretary General’s spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric issued a statement saying that the Secretary-General strongly condemned the “indiscriminate bombing” of several parts of Tripoli, including residential areas and the airport, 15 miles from the capital’s center.

“The Secretary-General emphasizes that civilians must be protected at all times in line with international humanitarian law”, the statement spelled out while also echoing the UN chief’s call for “an immediate cessation of hostilities” and urging that Security Council resolution 2510 be fully implemented.

However, the repeated calls and the dozens of international conferences to bring an end to the military clashes between the two sides have failed. Recent Geneva talks proposed by January Berlin conference to snatch a truce have collapsed and both sides resumed attacks.

The Libyan crisis has gone out of control with the interference of the foreign countries, which have been violating the UN arms embargo in place since 2011.

Turkey and Qatar have been propping up the GNA while the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia support Haftar.

The UN in a statement to reporters said Secretary General Antonio Guterres would discuss with Salame “the way to ensure a smooth transition so as not lose any momentum on the gains that have been made”.

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