Williams to LPDF Members: Corruption is Rampant, Time Is Not on Your Side – Al Marsad
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The UN Acting Envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams alerted Libyans to the existence of more than 10 military bases throughout the country that include what she described as “foreign forces” or mercenaries.

(Libya, 2 December 2020) – Stephanie Williams comments were made in her opening remarks during the third virtual meeting of the second round of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), which she gave today, Wednesday, confirming that the 10 bases are “all over your country, and not in a particular area, that are today either fully or partially occupied by foreign forces. There are now 20,000 foreign forces and/or mercenaries in your country. That is a shocking violation of Libyan sovereignty.”


“You may believe that these foreigners are here as your guests, but they are now occupying your house. This is a blatant violation of the arms embargo. They are pouring weapons into your country, a country that does not need more weapons. They are not in Libya for your interests, they are in Libya for their interests,” warned Williams adding in Libyan dialect “Dirou balkom [take care]. You have now a serious crisis with regard to the foreign presence in your country.”

Wiliams made no specific remarks to the current and alarming build up at Al-Watiya airbases, which 2-3 daily cargo flights from the airbase to Turkish bases.

The Turkish insistence on continuing to build its forces at al-Watiya is likely to undermine the successful efforts of UNSMIL’s 5+5 military track between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) military representatives. This is in addition to the fact that the vast majority of mercenaries in Libya were shipped by Turkey to assist the GNA militias and have yet to return to Syria. The 5+5 military agreement had stipulated that all foreign forces and mercenaries needed to leave within 90 days.


In her opening speech Williams touched on her previous warnings about “the declining socioeconomic conditions in the country and the fact that we expect in one month time, exactly in January 2021, there will be 1.3 million Libyans, your compatriots, your citizens in need of humanitarian assistance. There is a sharp decline in the purchasing power of the Libyan Dinar. The liquidity crisis has fully returned. There is a shortage of cash in circulation.”

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Williams referred to the “terrible” electricity crisis, “Because of the terrible corruption and the misgovernance, all over the country. I am not pointing fingers. This is a crisis in the West and in the East. You have a crisis of corruption. You have a misgovernance crisis and now you have only 13 of 27 power plants that are functioning.”

Williams went on to talk about the electricity crisis to show the urgent need for one billion US dollars to be invested immediately in the electrical infrastructure in order to avert a complete collapse of the electrical grid in the country. However, she stated, “This is very difficult now because of the divisions in the institutions, and because of the epidemic of corruption and this kleptocratic class that is determined to remain in power.”


Regarding the worsening Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Williams indicated that there are nearly 94,000 cases in Libya, a figure that she doubted, stating, ” We think those estimates are low and that the actual number is higher, but there is a terrible shortage of testing in the country. You have foreign actors who are behaving with complete impunity. You have domestic actors who are engaging in widespread corruption, self-dealing and mismanagement of the country.”


She emphasized, “You have domestic actors who are engaging in widespread corruption, self-dealing and mismanagement of the country. You have an increasing lack of accountability and human rights problems on a daily basis. We are getting reports of kidnapping, arbitrary detentions, killings by armed groups all over the country.”

Williams referred to “a lot of political tourism going to different countries and capitals, the average Libyans are suffering, and the indications of improvement for their situation are not there. We believe, and I think many of you believe, that the best way to move forward is through this political dialogue. This is a broad and inclusive forum for decision-making and people are counting on you.”

She added, “We went a long way in Tunis. We set the date of the elections. We need to hold all those institutions that need to produce the elections accountable, but you also have a governance crisis. The best way to address your governance crisis is to unify your institutions, to unify your Central Bank which needs to have a board meeting to address the exchange rate crisis immediately.”

The current accusations and war of words between the Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), Siddik al-Kabir, and the head of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), Mustafa Sanallah, is a clear indication that UNSMIL should have demanded GNA authorities to have provided audits on revenue and expenditure, which has undermined the Libyan public’s trust of the management of these institutions. The full audit of the Central Bank of Libya is still nowhere in sight, although stipulated at the Palermo meeting of 2018 and reiterated again at the agreement on the resumption of oil production this year.

“I know that there are many who think that this whole dialogue is just about sharing power, but it is really about sharing responsibility for future generations. This is my ask of you as we have the discussions today in going forward, because, and I will say it again, time is not on your side,” concluded Williams.

The irony of the comments made by Williams on foreign interference is that UNSMIL too is a foreign entity. The LPDF process, which should have served as an example of transparency and balance, ended up being typified by the very problems she accused the country, and as such it also threatens Libyan sovereignty. The LPDF remains stalled under the sway of competing forces and an overriding Islamist block whose numbers at the Forum far exceed their influence in Libyan society. The LPDF is also mired in bribery allegations and lack of legitimacy given the presence of notorious supporters of terrorism and money launderers who should not have been invited by Williams. Libyan tribal councils and civil society organisations had criticised UNSMIL on its handling of the dialogue process, lack of transparency and serious failure on balanced representation.

© Al-Marsad English (2020)

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