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Ben Sutherland;

Abushamain slams Leon for Misrata military meeting

Nouri Abu Sahmain, the head of the revived General National Congress, has protested to the UN that UNSMIL boss Bernardino Leon should not have met military leaders in Misrata last night because the general staff in Tripoli had not approved the encounter.

In a development which once again points up a split between Misrata and the rest of Libya Dawn, Abu Sahmain has written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to complain that Leon’s visit was unauthorised.  He said that in phone calls with both the Secretary-General and US Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, he had assured both men that he was ready to nominate army officers to discuss security arrangements with UNSMIL.

Yet, he said “Leon held security meetings with a number of military officers from the General Staff and some revolutionary fighters, all of whom are operating under the legitimacy of GNC, without taking the necessary approvals”.

Abu Shamain went on to warn that Leon’s visit might complicate the negotiations, undermine the Dialogue and cause UNSMIL to “lose trust as a neutral party”

UNSMIL said today that Leon had met members of armed groups from Misrata, Jebel Nafusa “and other areas of western Libya”.  The encounter was part the so-called Security Track of the Libya Dialogue.  Leon is expecting to have similar meetings elsewhere in Libya, including Zintan.  UNSMIL said there are also plans to have a Cairo meeting with representatives of the Libyan army and other armed groups from the east of the country. It gave no indication of whom it expected to be attending the Cairo gathering.

Leon urged those at the Misrata meeting to build on recent ceasefires and reconciliation deals reached in western Libya. It was agreed that there should be a larger security track meeting to see how ceasefires could be consolidated.

by Hadi Fornaji

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