New UN Libya envoy holds talks with Khalifa Haftar, angering rights advocates
UN’s new chief representative in Libya on Saturday concluded a week of meetings with leaders across the Libyan political divide - including General Khalifa Haftar, who has been accused of war crimes.
Abdoulaye Bathily spoke on Saturday to Haftar, who controls much of eastern Libya, in a bid to maintain and strengthen current ceasefires, according to Libya’s Special Mission to Libya (UNSMIL).
Bathily said he had had a "fruitful discussion" with Haftar, the head of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) who has been accused of ordering reckless bombing campaigns, deliberate civilian massacres, and torture of prisoners at various times during Libya’s long and bloody civil war.
News of the meeting has angered many in Libya, including human rights advocates.
"Haftar has been accused of many war crimes - even convicted in the US - and meeting with him only leads to greater divisions in Libya. This is a step backwards from UNSMIL," Libya Crimes Watch director Ali al-Aspli told The New Arab.
"My question to Bathily is: when you sat down with Haftar, did you ask him the whereabouts of the hundreds who’ve disappeared in the territory he controls, about the secret prisons and everyone inside?"
The New Arab has contacted UNSMIL for further comment on the meeting.
يوم أمس في بنغازي، أجريت مناقشات مثمرة مع المشير خليفة حفتر، القائد العام للجيش الوطني الليبي. وشدّدتُ على الحاجة إلى إيجاد حل سلمي ومستدام لليبيا. pic.twitter.com/9FB273PqNh— SRSG Abdoulaye Bathily (@Bathily_UNSMIL) October 23, 2022
In a long thread of tweets posted Sunday, the new UN Libya envoy reeled through the meetings held during his first week in the role.
They included talks with both rival prime ministers Fathi Bashagha and Abdulhamid Dbeibah.
"I am here to work with all my brothers and sisters in Libya. Among others, my priority is to identify a consensual pathway towards the holding of inclusive and credible elections," Bathily said.
UNSMIL was established in 2014, during the aftermath of the Libyan Civil War, to support the transitional authorities and aid with mediation and political agreements between the parties.
The UN body has previously tried to jumpstart talks between Libya's warring parties, including through the Libyan Political Dialogue forum that led to the appointment of Abdulhamid Dbeibah as prime minister of the Government of National Unity.
A long-running political crisis in Libya deepened in February this year when an eastern-based parliament picked former interior minister Bashagha to replace Dbeibah and appoint a new government.