UN Security Council votes on monitors of Libya ceasefire

Security Council is voting on draft resolution that urges all foreign forces, mercenaries to leave Libya, authorizes small UN team to monitor last October’s ceasefire deal that ordered their departure.

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council is voting on a draft resolution that urges all foreign forces and mercenaries to leave Libya and authorizes a small UN team to monitor last October’s ceasefire agreement that ordered their departure.

The British-drafted resolution would approve Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ proposals on the composition and operational aspects of the ceasefire monitoring laid out in a letter to the council.

In the April 7 letter, the UN chief proposed “an initial maximum number of 60 monitors” for “a phased deployment” of the ceasefire monitoring component which would be part of the UN political mission in Libya known as UNSMIL.

The monitors would be deployed to the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway to the country’s major oil fields and export terminals, “once all requirements for a permanent United Nations presence have been met, including security, logistical, medical and operational aspects,” the letter said.

In the meantime, it said, “a forward presence” would be established in the capital Tripoli “as soon as conditions permit.”

Guterres said “the proposed number of UNSMIL ceasefire monitors takes into account the Libyan request, as well as measures to allow regular rotation of personnel in and out of Libya, while ensuring flexibility in the geographic coverage in the monitoring area.”

The results of the email voting on the proposed resolution -- because of COVID-19 -- are expected to be announced on Friday.

Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and split the country between a UN-supported government in Tripoli and rival authorities based in the country’s east. Each side was backed by an array of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers.

In April 2019, Hifter and his forces, backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to try and capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed after Turkey stepped up its military support of the UN-supported government with hundreds of troops and thousands of Syrian mercenaries. An October ceasefire agreement has led to an agreement on a transitional government and elections scheduled for Dec. 24.

A recently released report by UN experts accused several foreign governments of turning the oil-rich country into a stage to play out rivalries and ignoring UN sanctions and a decade-long UN arms embargo, which it said has remained “totally ineffective.”

The experts identified Turkey and Qatar as the backers of forces loyal to the UN-supported administration in Tripoli, to the west, while the United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Egypt have supported Khalifa Hifter, the military commander controlling eastern and southern parts of Libya.

.The proposed resolution “strongly urges all member states to respect and support the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement, including through the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya without delay.” It would also demand full compliance with an arms embargo on Libya.