Libya: Leon, mission impossible without Italy

Gentiloni, no role to those against accord. Ban, support UN

16 October, 10:41

    Italian FM Paolo Gentiloni (L) with special envoy of the United Nations for Libya, Bernardino Leon (R) during their press conference at Palazzo Chigi in Rome Italian FM Paolo Gentiloni (L) with special envoy of the United Nations for Libya, Bernardino Leon (R) during their press conference at Palazzo Chigi in Rome

    (by Claudio Accogli)

    ROME - There is ''no alternative'' to an agreement on a government of national unity in Libya, a proposal reached with great effort that would have been an ''impossible mission'' without Italy, which will have a leading role in the challenge of the immigration emergency, human trafficking and ISIS threat. The UN special envoy, Bernardino Leon, said he is ''cautiously optimistic'' on the possibility of the agreement's success in an exclusive interview with ANSA shortly after outlining the latest progress at a press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni at Rome's Palazzo Chigi. The accord on the government is ''the only reasonable option possible'', the ''situation is better than last year, the climate is positive, we must work to keep this trend over the coming days'', explained Ban Ki-moon's envoy.

    The proposal with the names of those to be part of the new government, including Fayez Sarraj as premier, ''is widely accepted by various Libyan factions''. Such a result last year, ''when the conflict was open'', would have been unimaginable.

    ''There is a minority that doesn't accept some personalities - continued Leon in the interview with ANSA - but we are working to include them as well in the agreement''. The support of Misrata's militia, ''representing 70-80% of the coalition Fajr Libya'' grouping factions of Islamic inspiration in western Libya who are de facto in power in Tripoli, ''is truly an important support for the government and the agreement, I have appreciated very much this position''. The fighters from Misrata, on the front line of the uprising that lead to the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi's regime, said they are ready to guarantee the security of the new executive in the Libyan capital. And Zintan rivals have announced their support for Leon's proposal. The congress in Tripoli (Gnc) and Parliament of Tobruk (Hor) have instead postponed a decision to the beginning of next week, when a deadline set by Leon on October 20 expires.

    ''I don't believe there is a majority of representatives in the Gnc or Hor opposing the accord. I think there are concerns: I want to assure that the international community is aware of this and that we will try to solve a few issues''. In particular, explained Leon, the one concerning Benghazi's weight in the new government. But the agreement, he concluded, ''cannot be re-opened, it is not negotiable''.

    And in the long term, the UN envoy stressed, Italy ''will need to have a leading role'' in the international community to confront challenges like the migrant crisis and threats coming from negative forces in Libya (like ISIS).

    At a press conference in Palazzo Chigi, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni stressed that Leon has done an ''extraordinary job'' and added that the agreement on the government ''cannot be touched'' - those who don't accept this accord ''must know that they will have no legitimacy and no role'' in the stabilization of Libya.

    ''We are working to reach not just a majority but the widest consensus possible'' on the accord, added the minister. He stressed that the Italian foreign minister hosted meetings of ''15 countries, as well as the 3+5 for the first time in this format also seven countries from the region'', including Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar and ''we stressed that the agreement is not renegotiable''.

    These issues were also confronted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his address at the Lower House for the ceremony marking the 60 years of Italy's adhesion to the United Nations in which he asked Libyan leaders to support efforts to implement the ambitions of the 2011 revolution.

    The UN secretary general also praised Italy and said that if a UN peace mission in Libya will be approved, the decision on who will lead it will be taken by the Security Council. ''I can only say that Italy had a very positive role''.

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