United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday said he supported the African Union (AU) taking a greater role in mediating the Libya crisis, acknowledging the bloc’s frustration at being sidelined so far. The AU leadership has complained at being overlooked in peace-making efforts related to Libya, which have been led primarily by the UN and heavily involved European nations. “I fully understand that frustration,” Guterres said at a news conference in Addis Ababa ahead of the annual AU summit on Sunday and Monday. “Africa has been put aside in relation to Libya…. We believe it is absolutely essential to associate the AU in searching (for) a solution to the Libyan conflict”.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who takes over as AU chair on Monday, has said Libya would be a key focus of his tenure as the pan-African bloc seeks a more prominent role in solving conflicts on the continent. Guterres welcomed a reconciliation forum organised by the AU last month in relation to Libya, adding their delegates were welcome at the UN mission in Tripoli. Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi. The North African state remains in chaos, mostly split between strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, and the UN-recognised government in Tripoli. [AFP]