The Senegalese Abdoulaye Bathily, the new UN special envoy to Libya, began his mandate a week ago. The most difficult begins for him.
He almost arrives in virgin territory. Designated United Nations (UN) Special Envoy to Libya, the Senegalese Abdulaye Bathily took office on September 29. And the diplomat is going to have his work cut out for him: it's as if he was taking on a file from the start, as what was done before by his predecessors will have been useless. It's been a year and a half since Jan Kubiš resigned. It was a month before an election scheduled to be…cancelled. Since then, the UN Security Council had struggled to find a consensual replacement.
Why is it a complicated departure that is announced for Bathily? First of all, all the initiatives of the international community, and in particular of the United Nations, have not led to any improvement in the situation on the ground. The Berlin initiative, which had taken place in 2020, had made it possible to establish a roadmap which was never kept. Worse, the postponement - in reality a pure and simple cancellation - of the elections and the confusion that reigned during the filing of candidacies considerably caused a resurgence of tension.
A tension that is all the more palpable since the appointment of a Prime Minister when the previous head of government does not want to let go of his post. Of violence took place in Tripoli, raising fears of an upcoming civil war in Libya. One more. As for the international community, it is currently more busy eyeing Libyan oil and denouncing the hydrocarbon prospecting agreement between the government of national unity in Tripoli and Turkey than working for peace.
Advocate for an African solution
It is therefore an almost impossible mission that is looming for the new Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Libya. The Senegalese finds himself faced with an unstable security and political situation.
As a symbol, Bathily announced that he was settling in Tripoli. The Senegalese will above all try to forget the American Stephanie Williams. The head of Manul considered, on leaving, that the Libyan protagonists "indulged in the game of musical chairs" and deplored that "a handful of individuals" had "taken the political future of the country hostage". However, the Senegalese will have to overcome a first obstacle: that of his legitimacy. Appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, in August, Abdoulaye Bathily had seen his candidacy rejected by Tripoli. Suffice to say that he will have to work hard to win.
However, Bathily has only one advantage: he is the first African to hold this position. An important message for Libya. Especially since the Senegalese is also supported by the African Union (AU), chaired by Macky Sall whom he knows well, and by Denis Sassou N'Guesso, president of the AU High Level Committee on Libya. Bathily, finally, will not be able to do worse than his seven predecessors, who have all failed to bring peace to Libya since 2011.