UN chief taps US diplomat as Libya advisor ahead of key vote

Appointment of Stephanie Williams comes after the sudden resignation of the current envoy Jan Kubis one month ahead of election



Stephanie Williams. — AFP file
Stephanie Williams. — AFP file

By AFP

Published: Tue 7 Dec 2021, 2:13 AM

American diplomat Stephanie Williams was appointed on Monday as the UN secretary-general’s special advisor on Libya, after the sudden resignation of the current envoy Jan Kubis one month ahead of a critical presidential election.

An Arabic-speaker, Williams served in 2020 as acting director of the UN’s Geneva-based Libya mission, after being its deputy director from 2018-2020. In her new role, she will reside in Tripoli, Libya.

Her nomination by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “special advisor” instead of “envoy” sidesteps the 15-member Security Council, and avoids an embarrassing vacancy before Libya’s presidential election on December 24, which aims to turn the page on 10 years of war.

“This appointment of Mrs. Williams as a special advisor ensures that we will have the leadership in place during this very critical month of December,” noted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

“She will be based in Tripoli and will start in the coming days,” he added, confirming that the secretary-general had rejected a proposal by Kubis, who will vacate his post December 10, to continue working through the elections.

Kubis, an ex-Slovakian minister and UN veteran who took up the post of Libya envoy in January, transmitted his resignation to Guterres on November 17 — although it was only disclosed once accepted a week later, and never fully explained by the UN.

According to diplomats, Kubis had been refusing for his post to be transferred from Geneva to Tripoli, as was scheduled to happen in 2022.

According to one diplomat, his relationship with Guterres had deteriorated to a point of “breakdown” and “they could no longer work together”.


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