By Libya Herald Reporter
Tunis, 3 October 2015:
The UN Special Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, is to be replaced with German diplomat . . .[restrict]Martin Kobler. He will taking over the Spaniard’s job in the coming weeks, according to diplomatic sources.
The change has been widely rumoured for more than a month.
Kobler, 62, is a career diplomat who previously led the UN peace mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which makes Libya look peaceful and united in comparison.
The German diplomat has long experience of conflict zones, having also served as UN special representative not just in DRC but Afghanistan and Iraq. Fluent in Arabic, he helped set up Germany’s official representation to the Palestinian authority and served as German ambassador to Egypt and Iraq.
Leon, 50, has been UN envoy since August last year, and his replacement is seen as a normal rotation for a job that has had three occupants since the 2011 Libyan revolution.
Leon’s term of office has been defined by his efforts, so far unsuccessful, to mediate a ceasefire in Libya’s civil war, and he drew high praise on Friday at a specially convened meeting in the UN General Assembly.
He himself insists his mediation has been a success and has twice in recent weeks hinted that the peace talks should be copied to resolve the conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
However, his time in office has been controversial, with many Libyans dismayed by his constant statements over the past year that a peace deal to end the war was at hand.
Back in January, at talks in Geneva, he said “good progress” was being made and even commissioned a film to record the discussions.
In March, he memorably declared “we are really getting very close to the agreement” and has made similar claims in successive months.
Leon’s insistence, opening each series of peace talks, that they would be the “final” talks, only for a new series of “final” talks to be opened a week or two later, has become the butt of both jokes and the cause for anger with the Libyan twitterati and officials.
So have his deadlines. He has set four, each one described as “final” and each one missed.
The envoy is, nonetheless, still hopeful he can pull off a peace deal, setting 20 October as the new “final” deadline for the signing of the seventh draft of his plan for a government of national accord. [/restrict]