NEW YORK: The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution extending its political mission in Libya — but only until Jan. 31, shortly after the country is to stage its presidential election, after a fierce struggle between Britain and Russia over the text.
The 15-member Council had been on track to extend the mission in mid-September for a year, key in the run-up to elections on Dec. 24, which are intended to turn the page on a decade of war.
But a dispute erupted between Britain and Russia, both of which have veto-wielding power on the Council.
Moscow rejected the language in a resolution drafted by London that would have called for the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya, as well as a clause on the future of the UN envoy to Libya.
Mired in the standoff, the Security Council was forced to technically extend the mission’s mandate by 15 days, until Sept. 30, to give more time for negotiations between Moscow and London — but the talks were in vain.
On Wednesday, Moscow once again threatened to veto the resolution as amended. And then Russia pushed the issue even further by putting forth its own text in a rare act of defiance.
After an emergency meeting on Thursday between the five permanent members of the Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the US — they adopted an abbreviated resolution, extending the mission until January 31, 2022.
Western and African members of the Council deplored the outcome on Thursday.
The US called it “unfortunate,” while Kenya called for an African to lead the process.
Libya was gripped by violence and political turmoil in the aftermath of the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi.