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German diplomat to lead UN Libya talks, ex-envoy heads to UAE
By Carole LANDRY
United Nations, United States (AFP) Nov 4, 2015

German diplomat Martin Kobler will take over the struggling UN peace effort in Libya in the coming days, the UN said Wednesday.

He will replace Bernardino Leon, who landed a position training diplomats in the United Arab Emirates.

Leon, who is Spanish, is to deliver his last report to the Security Council on Thursday before heading to Abu Dhabi to begin work as the first director of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, starting in December.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric dismissed suggestion of a conflict of interest by Leon, who reportedly accepted the position while he was negotiating with the Libyan parties.

The UAE backs the internationally recognized government in Libya, which is negotiating with an Islamist-backed alliance on forming a unity government to end years of turmoil in the north African country.

"I am sure he will make a terrific teacher of diplomacy," Dujarric said.

"Mr. Leon's tireless work to bring the parties in Libya together in a government of national accord and resumed transition speaks for itself."

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahya, who is chairman of the board of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, said that Leon's experience will "be a rich resource for our new generation of diplomats."

Leon took up the post of special envoy for Libya in August last year, winning agreement from all sides to negotiate a political deal. But the talks have hit a wall over appointments to government posts.

In the latest move to address power-sharing, Leon offered to expand a proposed presidency council from six to nine members, made up of a prime minister, five deputy prime ministers and three senior ministers.

This would ensure more representation from Benghazi, Libya's second city, where protests against the UN deal turned violent late last month, leaving at least 12 dead.

Benghazi has been a major battleground for over a year, with pro-government forces battling a coalition of Islamist fighters.

Libya has had two administrations since August 2014, when an Islamist-backed militia alliance overran Tripoli, forcing the internationally recognized government to take refuge in Tobruk, in the east of the country.

The oil-rich north African country descended into chaos after the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The Security Council is due to discuss the next steps in Libya at its session on Thursday after threatening sanctions against those who block the deal.

A request in June by Britain, France, Spain and the United States to impose sanctions on two Libyan individuals was blocked by Russia and China.

A former German ambassador to Iraq and Egypt, Kobler led the UN peace mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past two years and has represented the United Nations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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