Withdrawal of foreign fighters from Libya: Bathily visits Chad, Sudan and Niger
Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) in Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, today concluded his first official visit to Libya’s southern neighbours, Sudan, Chad and Niger. During the visit he discussed restoring peace and stability in Libya, including through the withdrawal of foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries from the country with adequate coordination.
The SRSG visit came in support of the 5+5 Joint Military Committee (JMC) Action Plan that established the Liaison Committees Sudan, Chad and Niger and supported the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement (English / Arabic), brokered by the UN and signed by Libyan parties in October 2020.
“The presence of foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries and the proliferation of arms in Libya poses a critical risk to peace and stability in the country and the region,” said SRSG Bathily as he embarked on his visit. “We need to work with our partners to address this challenge without negatively impacting Libya’s neighbouring countries,” he added.
In Khartoum, SRSG Bathily was received by President of the Transitional Sovereignty Council of Sudan, H.E. Abdulfattah Burhan. The President expressed his support for UNSMIL’s efforts towards peace and stability in Libya which would also contribute to the stability of the region. He agreed that one of the actions needed to restore peace in Libya was the return of foreign fighters, foreign forces, and mercenaries to their countries of origin.
Prior to the meeting with President Burhan, SRSG Bathily met with the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ali Al-Sadiq. They discussed recent political developments in Libya and the need to consolidate efforts to address the common challenges facing Sudan and Libya, including border security.
“Minister Al-Sadiq expressed his government’s support for the UN’s good offices in Libya to overcome the political impasse and lead the country to inclusive elections,” said SRSG Bathily.
In his meeting with the Minister of Defence of Sudan, General Yassin Ibrahim, they reviewed the progress achieved by the 5+5 JMC and the Liaison Committees from Libya, Sudan, Chad and Niger. General Ibrahim confirmed his commitment to pursing a coordinated withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya and to reintegrating qualified candidates into relevant institutions.
SRSG Bathily was received in N’Djamena by the Transitional President, General Mahamat Idriss Déby, who expressed appreciation for initiating this high-level consultation on a key strategic issue important to Libya and Chad alike. President Déby was clear that peace and stability in Libya is also in the best interests of Chad and therefore pledged his further cooperation.
“I expressed appreciation for the support Chad extends to the 5+5 JMC in the implementation of the ceasefire agreement through the Chadian Liaison Committee,” said SRSG Bathily.
SRSG Bathily also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chadians Abroad and International Cooperation, Mahamat Saleh Annadif to discuss efforts to hold inclusive elections this year in Libya. He expressed Chad’s support to the UN for its good offices in Libya.
To discuss the technicalities of the withdrawal process and to help reach common understanding, SRSG Bathily separately met with the Chadian Minister for Public Security and Immigration, Mahamat Margui and Minister of General Defence Daoud Yaya. They both expressed support for the UN efforts in facilitating a coordinated withdrawal of these elements. They stressed the imperative of adequate processes of repatriation and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
In his final stop of the visit, SRSG Bathily held a series of meetings with Niger’s leaders in Niamey.
“I was honored to be received by the President of the Republic of Niger, H.E. Mohamed Bazoum, who commended the UN’s efforts to stabilize Libya at this critical time,” said SRSG Bathily, adding that they discussed the progress made on the security track and efforts towards the holding of elections this year.
Earlier in the day, SRSG Bathily met with Niger’s Minister of National Defence, H.E. Alkassoum Indattou and Minister of Interior and Public Security, Mr Alkache Alhada, to review the coordination mechanisms of the 5+5 JMC committee to facilitate the withdrawal of Nigerien mercenaries and fighters from Libya. They also discussed enhancing border security between Niger and Libya to prevent cross-border trafficking.
In conclusion, the SRSG explained the visit was successful recognizing the challenges ahead, as there are various motivations behind the presence of these armed groups in Libya. These motives are economic, social and sometimes political. SRSG Bathily called on the international community to support a coordinated process, including through the allocation of the necessary financial resources and technical assistance to avoid adverse impacts on the countries of origin.
“A coordinated, sequenced, synchronized and balanced withdrawal of foreign fighters, foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, coupled with enhanced border security will contribute to peace, stability, constructive cooperation and prosperity in Libya and the region,” said SRSG Bathily. “It will reduce the alarming rates of human trafficking, arms and drugs smuggling, illegal mining, and will help limit the movement of extremists.”