UN in final push to salvage Libya political deal

UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame told the Security Council he is launching a new, final push to bring Libya’s rival leaders on board a 2015 political deal that set up a unity government. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2018
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UN in final push to salvage Libya political deal

UNITED NATIONS: The UN envoy for Libya told the Security Council Wednesday that he is launching a new, final push to bring Libya’s rival leaders on board a 2015 political deal that set up a unity government.
Ghassan Salame said he believed there was “very little chance” of agreement on amending the deal that established the UN-backed government under Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj.
“However, starting tomorrow, I shall commence a new, and final attempt to realize the amendments,” said Salame, who briefed the council by video-conference from Tripoli.
The United Nations has launched a plan to bring stability to Libya through elections this year that are meant to turn the page on years of turmoil since the 2011 ouster of Muammar Qaddafi.
Despite the 2015 deal, Libya remains divided between the UN-backed government in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east that enjoys support from Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
One of the main stumbling blocks has been the inclusion in the UN-backed administration of Khalifa Haftar, whose Libyan National Army dominates the east.
The UN plan “does not depend on these amendments and certainly the closer Libya is to elections, the less relevant these amendments become,” Salame said.
“For the United Nations, working for the conduct of fair, free and credible elections before the end of this year is at the top of our priorities,” he said.
Some 2.5 million Libyans have registered to vote but new election laws have yet to be drafted and plans for a constitutional referendum have stalled.
After eight months in the job, Salame said he was “truly disturbed” by the widespread corruption in oil-rich Libya.
The north African country produces well over 1 million barrels of oil a day but there is no economic recovery.
“This system must be shattered. Resources must flow into building a strong equitable state for all, and not in the pockets of the few,” said the envoy.
The UN mission in Libya is also holding talks with armed groups on a strategy to be unveiled by May on reintegrating fighters into civilian life.


Al-Shabaab captures strategic town in Somalia’s Puntland

Displaced Somali children and teenagers attend a class to learn alphabets and numbers at a makeshift school at the Badbado IDP camp in Mogadishu. (AFP)
Updated 45 min 54 sec ago
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Al-Shabaab captures strategic town in Somalia’s Puntland

  • Puntland forces ran away as we advanced to the town because they know we had taught them tough lessons before
  • Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s

BOSASO: Somalia’s militant group Al-Shabaab has captured a small but strategic town 100 km (60 miles) south of Bosaso city in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, a military officer, Al-Shabaab and residents said on Friday.
Residents in Af Urur told Reuters that the town is now controlled by Al-Shabaab.
“When we woke up this morning, we saw many Al- Shabaab fighters controlling the town. The (Puntland military) forces had left yesterday,” Ahmed Nur told Reuters from Af Urur by phone on Friday.
Al-Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government, expel the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM and establish a government based on its own strict interpretation of the Shariah.
Af Urur’s position is important because the main road that links the cities of Garowe, Bosaso and Mogadishu passes nearby.
Puntland forces and Al-Shabaab have fought in the town, which has ditch defenses, several times in the past.
Mohamed Abdi, a Puntland military officer, told Reuters Al-Shabaab had taken Af Urur town by Friday morning, adding without elaborating that only a few Puntland military forces had been in the town on Thursday evening. “We were supposed to be replaced by other forces,” Abdi said. “We shall recapture the town from Al-Shabaab.”
Al-Shabaab confirmed that they had control of the town.
“Puntland forces ran away as we advanced to the town because they know we had taught them tough lessons before,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters on Friday. “We now peacefully control Af Urur town.”
Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s.
Puntland is bordered by Somaliland to its west, the Gulf of Aden in the north, the Guardafui Channel in the east, the central Galmudug region in the south and Ethiopia in the southwest.
It has a long coastline, which is abundant with fish and other natural marine resources. Puntland has the lowest rate of poverty in Somalia.