Tripoli ceasefire remains steadfast despite recent clashes: UN Libya envoy

UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé briefed the UN Security Council on the security and humanitarian situation in Libya. (Screengrab)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Tripoli ceasefire remains steadfast despite recent clashes: UN Libya envoy

  • Fighting broke out this week between rival armed groups in the south of the capital

UNITED NATIONS: A cease-fire in Tripoli remains steadfast despite heavy recent clashes, UN Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salamé told the Security Council on Friday.
Fighting broke out this week between rival armed groups in the south of the capital, breaching a shaky ceasefire brokered by the UN in September.
In a comprehensive briefing, Salamé said the UN mission in Libya was cooperating with the Libyan Reconciliation Government to transfer control of prisons to the authority of the state, but armed groups are assuming responsibility for law enforcement rather than official Libyan bodies.
He also said new divisions emerge in Libya every day that should be dealt with.
Salamé said the country can not succeed without a united national leadership, calling on Libyan parties to cooperate constructively to approve and pass the UN backed constitution. 
The UN envoy says the United Nations is seeking to bring Libyans together in the coming weeks to agree on a national agenda to rebuild the fractured north African nation and spell out the path to elections.
Ghassan Salame told to the Security Council that the UN will announce the date and place of the National Conference once Libyan representatives agree on “the essential ingredients for a new consensus on a national agenda.”
He said only Libyans can plot a way out of the political deadlock in the country which “has been underpinned by a complex web of narrow interests, a broken legal framework, and the pillaging of Libya’s great wealth.”
Libya has been split between rival parliaments, one in tripoli and one in Benghazi, since a civil war erupted in 2011 during the downfall of former ruler Muammar Qaddafi.
The UN envoy said “we need additional effort to establish a stable and prosperous economic system in Libya,” adding that the Libyan currency has gained stability, inflation has decreased and progress has been achieved in resolving the liquidity crisis.
He said the UN mission stressed the importance of allowing aid to civilians in Libya without hindrance, noting that all Libyans suffer from violations, violence and difficult humanitarian conditions.
“Without international support, the saboteurs will succeed in undermining the political process in Libya,” he added.
Finally, Salamé said they expect the UN office in Benghazi, in the east, to be reopened before the end of January


Tutankhamun relic sells for $6 mn in London despite Egyptian outcry

Updated 04 July 2019
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Tutankhamun relic sells for $6 mn in London despite Egyptian outcry

  • Christie’s auction house sold the relic for £4,746,250
  • Angry Egyptian officials wanted Thursday’s sale halted and the treasure returned

LONDON: A 3,000-year-old quartzite head of Egyptian “Boy King” Tutankhamun was auctioned off for $6 million on Thursday in London despite an outcry from Cairo.
Christie’s auction house sold the 28.5-centimeter (11-inch) relic for £4,746,250 ($5,970,000, 5,290,000 euros) at one of its most controversial auctions in years.
No information about the buyer was disclosed.
The famous pharaoh’s finely-chiselled face — its calm eyes and puffed lips emoting a sense of eternal peace — came from the private Resandro Collection of ancient art that Christie’s last auctioned off 2016 for £3 million.
But angry Egyptian officials wanted Thursday’s sale halted and the treasure returned.
Christie’s decision “contradicts international agreements and conventions,” Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday..
Former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass told AFP that the piece appears to have been “stolen” in the 1970s from the Karnak Temple complex just north of Luxor.
“We think it left Egypt after 1970 because in that time other artefacts were stolen from Karnak Temple,” Hawass said.
Christie’s countered that Egypt had never before expressed the same level of concern about an item whose existence has been “well known and exhibited publicly” for many years.
“The object is not, and has not been, the subject of an investigation,” it said in a statement to AFP.
The auction house has published a chronology of how the relic changed hands between European art dealers over the past 50 years.
Its oldest attribution from 1973-74 places it in the collection of Prince Wilhelm of Thurn and Taxi in modern-day Germany.
Yet that account was called into doubt by a report from the Live Science news site last month suggesting that Wilhelm never owned the piece.
Wilhelm was “not a very art-interested person,” his niece Daria told the news site.
A journalist and art historian who knew Wilhelm told Live Science site that the prince had no arts collection at all.
Tutankhamun is thought to have become a pharaoh at the age of nine and to have died about 10 years later.
His rule would have probably passed without notice were it not for the 1922 discovery by Britain’s Howard Carter of his nearly intact tomb.
The lavish find revived interest in ancient Egypt and set the stage for subsequent battles over ownership of cultural masterpieces unearthed in colonial times.
Tutankhamun became commonly known as King Tut and made into the subject of popular songs and films.
International conventions and the British government’s own guidance restrict the sale of works that were known to have been stolen or illegally dug up.
The British Museum has been wrangling for decades with Greece over its remarkable room full of marble Parthenon friezes and sculptures.
Egypt’s own campaign to recover lost art gained momentum after numerous works went missing during the looting that accompanied former president Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power in 2011.
Cairo has managed to regain hundreds of looted and stolen artefacts by working with both auction houses and international cultural groups.
But Egypt has been unable to substantiate its case with firm proof that the Tutankhamun bust was illegally obtained.
Christie’s told AFP that it would “not sell any work where there isn’t clear title of ownership.”