Next Six Months Will Be Critical for Libya: Harsh Vardhan Shringla at UNSC

India on Thursday called on the international community to ensure terrorist groups are not allowed to operate unchallenged in Libya, voicing grave concern over the African country becoming a logistics platform for al-Qaeda affiliates in Mali and its cascading effect in the region. Speaking at a high-level Security Council ministerial meeting on Libya chaired by Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla also said the Sanctions Committee report indicates spread of such activities into the Sahel region as well.

“We must ensure that terrorist groups and affiliated entities are not allowed to operate unchallenged in Libya. The continued presence and activities of ISIL in Libya, as illustrated by the latest report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of 1267 Sanctions Committee, is of serious concern,” Shringla said. “Libya has become a logistical platform for al-Qaeda affiliates in Mali. This is a matter of grave concern due the potential cascading effect it could have throughout the Sahel region. It is unfortunate that the issue is not drawing the attention it deserves,” he said, adding that the international community must speak in one voice against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Highlighting India’s close and mutually beneficial bilateral ties with Libya, Shringla said New Delhi remains committed to supporting Tripoli and its people in their endeavour to bring about lasting peace in the country. “To this end, we look forward to working with the Government of National Unity for providing capacity building and training assistance in mutually identified areas.” Shringla arrived in New York on Wednesday and will participate in another high-level event in the Security Council under the current French Presidency. He is also scheduled to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday.

In his address, Shringla asserted that the next six months will be critical for Libya, as it embarks on a journey towards peace and stability. It is incumbent upon the international community and the Security Council, in particular, to continue to provide support to Libya in this critical phase. He said it is important that elections need to be held as planned on December 24 this year in a free and fair manner. In order to achieve this, he said, it is vital that the constitutional basis for conducting elections is agreed upon early. Regrettably, consensus on the issue is still elusive, he said. “The Libyan parties, in particular, the members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), need to continue consultations among themselves in order to arrive at a workable solution at the earliest, Shringla said, as he urged the House of Representatives and the High Council of State to frame the required legislation for the conduct of elections. Emphasising the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Libya needs to be safeguarded, Shringla said the peace process must be fully Libyan-led and Libyan-owned with no imposition or external interference.

“We also encourage all Libyan parties to continue to make concerted efforts towards the unification of all national institutions, he said, welcoming the independent audit of the Central Bank. Further, he said, the provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement and successive Security Council resolutions need to be respected. “Unfortunately, these provisions, in particular, those related to the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries, continue to be violated. It is equally alarming that the arms embargo continues to be blatantly violated, as repeatedly reported by the Panel of Experts.”

Shringla called for the need for a serious discussion within the Security Council on what further measures could be taken to ensure that the decisions of the Council on withdrawal of foreign forces are implemented, so that sustainable peace and stability prevails in Libya. He also underlined the need to plan for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed groups and non-state armed actors and said an inclusive and comprehensive national reconciliation process is the need of the hour. “We hope that all the parties concerned would engage sincerely in this endeavour. We also urge the international community to support such a process.”

Shringla noted that while there has been a sense of cautious optimism” with regard to the situation in Libya over the last few months, especially since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement in October last year, there are still causes for concern as the security situation remains fragile despite a reduction in violence. “The economic impact of the conflict has been adversely impacted by the pandemic and disintegrating financial institutions. The involvement of external forces in the internal affairs of Libya has negatively impacted the progress on the political track,” he said.

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