U.N. chief considers naming Algerian diplomat as new Libya envoy: diplomats

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been consulting with U.N. Security Council members about appointing former Algerian Foreign Minster Ramtane Lamamra as his new Libya envoy, diplomats said on Wednesday.

His current Libya envoy Ghassan Salame quit last week due to stress, days after his latest effort at peacemaking failed to achieve a breakthrough in the conflict. Salame was appointed in mid-2017 to replace German diplomat Martin Kobler, after an unusually contentious search for a candidate.

Guterres had initially chosen former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad in 2017 to be the U.N. Libya envoy and formally notified the 15-member U.N. Security Council of the appointment in a letter.

Traditionally, the Security Council then approves such a move by consensus by writing back to the secretary-general and “taking note” of the appointment. However, the United States objected to Fayyad because he was Palestinian.

Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Guterres has informally consulted with some council members about appointing Lamamra, but has not yet sent a formal letter. Diplomats said most council members supported the appointment.

Libya has faced internal strife since the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, and the latest round of violence began last year when eastern-based forces began to advance on the capital Tripoli.

Last month Salame brought delegations from the two main sides in Libya’s conflict to Geneva for peace talks, but key representatives suspended their involvement. Shelling in Tripoli then intensified into some of the heaviest bombardments since Salame brokered a ceasefire on Jan. 12.

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