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Salame to Asharq Al-Awsat: Personal Attacks Don’t Bother Me, UNSMIL is Impartial

Salame to Asharq Al-Awsat: Personal Attacks Don’t Bother Me, UNSMIL is Impartial

Sunday, 3 February, 2019 - 13:15
UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame arrives for an interview with Reuters ahead of the first day of the international conference on Libya in Palermo, Italy, November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
Cairo - Sawsan Abu Hussein
UN Special Envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame has affirmed that the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is impartial and that "hinging elections to seizing weapons will cost Libya years of waiting."

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Salame said he was not bothered by the attacks against him in eastern Libya and confirmed that he expected them.

“If this hadn’t happened, it would mean that I am not working for the sake of changing conditions in Libya to the better,” he noted. Salame attributed this criticism to several reasons.

Some say that you are behaving in Libya as a president and not as a UN special envoy, the newspaper remarked. Salame commented that this criticism is good, wishing that Libyans would agree on how they view the UN Special Envoy.

“Some accuse us of not putting enough pressure and not determining what Libyans should do, while other parties say that we rule and control. So, I think critics should agree on what they expect from us,” he said.

There are several current projects that shouldn’t necessarily be discussed over media, however, when it comes to weapons, Salame said, Libya has around 15 million weapon pieces in the hands of citizens because of the enormous armory left by Muammar Gaddafi and because arms are still entering Libya.

Asharq Al-Awsat asked, “Are you saying money from banks is spent on arms?” His answer was affirmative, saying that it is spent on arms and other things. Yet, he insisted that revealing spending means is highly important.

“It is a demand, first, because Libyans are complaining that the country’s funds are not being spent to serve the people, their interests, stability, and security. Second, inflation should be halted as well as the huge gap between the official rate of Libyan dinar and the exchange rate,” he added.

Salame asserted that no one is hindering the convening of Libyan National Conference, Libyans are enthusiastic about it and nothing has been imposed on them, he confirmed.

“Some view the conference as a new body to be added to current ones, and sometimes it is viewed as a meeting. To me, I see that it is a key conference,” he continued.

Tell us about your next tour in the quest of getting parties closer, the newspaper said. Salame responded that in the coming hours a new round of negotiations will commence among active partners in Libya for the sake of filling the current gap.

Speaking about his visit to Egypt, he said that he met with Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Abu al-Gheit whom he has continuous communication with. Salame also convened with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokri and other officials.

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