Bernardino Leon has been asked by UN Secretary general Ban Ki-moon to continue to his special envoy to Libya following the refusal of both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the General National Congress (GNC) to approve the government of national unity and the Dialogue agreement by the deadline set of 20 October.
Leon was to relinquish the post by the end of this month and be replaced by German diplomat Martin Kobler.
News of the extension of Leon’s tenure was given today by Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, speaking to joint meeting of the Italian parliament’s foreign and defence committees on the situation in Libya.
Leon hoped reach a final agreement and “get out of the ambiguities” that currently prevented a settlement, Gentiloni said.
No time limit was given to Leon’s extension. However, he is known to want to return to politics in Spain, hoping to become the country’s next foreign minister if the Socialist Party win the elections there on 20 December. Were he to succeed in Libya and the socialists win, his claim to the job would be nigh irresistible. Between 2008 and 2011, he headed the Spanish prime ministers office.
At a press conference in Tunis yesterday, Wednesday, Leon said that Libya was now “in limbo” as a result of the deadline being passed without action, but that the UN-brokered negotiations would continue and that fresh talks would take place shortly.
Both the HoR and the GNC, while at loggerheads over which version of the draft agreement to accept, have said they wish to continue with the dialogue.
According to diplomats, Kobler, as Leon’s replacement, was chosen to implement the agreement, not to negotiate it.