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.


Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

Updated 23 October 2018
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Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

  • Man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial
  • Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: A man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial Tuesday in a process closed to the public.
Tajikistan’s Supreme Court spokesperson told AFP Tuesday the trial for the “brutal murder of four foreign cyclists” had begun in the suspect’s high-security detention center.
Hussein Abdusamadov, 33, already confessed to killing American cycling tourists Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, Dutch citizen Rene Wokke and Swiss citizen Markus Hummel in July.
The victims were struck by a car as they cycled along the remote Pamir Highway, a popular route among adventure tourists, before being set upon with knives and firearms.
Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt.
A video of the five men pledging allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was released by an official Daesh media channel.
Tajik authorities have so far ignored the video evidence, instead blaming a former opposition party — the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan — that was banned by the government in 2015.
The fact the trial is closed has raised concerns about due process in a country with a poor record on political freedoms and human rights.
Abdusamadov implicated the IRPT as the ultimate organizer of the attack in a televised confession, but critics say the government is using the case to tar the opposition.
A dozen senior members of the IRPT are serving long sentences up to life on charges government critics say are trumped up.
In addition to Abdusamadov, 16 other people stand accused of not offering information to the authorities that could have prevented the attack, a source in the police told AFP.