U.N. Libya Mediator Quits Weeks Before Planned Election

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) -
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and U.N. envoy Jan Kubis hold a news conference following a meeting on the political process in Libya at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany, March 18, 2021. (Kay Nietfeld/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

The United Nations Libya mediator Jan Kubis is stepping down, diplomats said on Tuesday, less than a year after he took up the role and a month before planned elections in the country.

The United Nations is informally suggesting veteran British diplomat Nicholas Kay as a replacement, said diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity. The 15-member U.N. Security Council, operating by consensus, must greenlight a new appointment.

Kubis is a former Slovak foreign minister who has also served as the U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon and the U.N. special envoy in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Security Council approved his appointment as Libya mediator in January, succeeding Ghassan Salame, who quit in March 2020 due to stress.

It was not immediately clear why Kubis was stepping down.

Libya descended into chaos after the NATO-backed overthrow of longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In October last year, the two major sides in Libya’s war – the internationally recognized Government of National Accord and Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army – agreed a ceasefire.

Parliamentary and presidential elections on Dec. 24 were demanded by a U.N. political forum last year as part of a roadmap to end Libya’s civil war. However, disputes over the planned vote threaten to derail the U.N.-backed peace process.

A first-round presidential vote is set for Dec. 24 and the parliamentary election has been delayed to January or February. However, rules for the elections have not yet been agreed.