The United Kingdom officially reopened its embassy in Libya after temporarily suspending operations almost eight years ago.
British ambassador to Libya Caroline Hurndall made the announcement during a speech delivered in Tripoli on Sunday at a party celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday, tweeting that she was “delighted” to do so.
The embassy’s reopening comes amid international pressure on Libya’s rival governments – one in the capital Tripoli in the west and the other in Tobruk in the east – to hold long-delayed presidential elections that failed to go ahead in December as scheduled.
“Although the Embassy is based in Tripoli, this is a demonstration of our commitment to the whole of Libya,” Hurndall said in a speech transcribed on the UK government’s website.
“I am proud that our work touches the lives of Libyans across the whole country already.”
She said the UK is providing training to law enforcement in Benghazi, Sabha and Misrata as well as Tripoli and helping with peace building in Tobruk, Ajdabiya and Zliten.
Hurndall also highlighted the UK’s support for the High National Elections Commission.
She said Libya’s leaders must cooperate and carry on enacting an October 2020 ceasefire deal for the country’s political and economic potential to be realised.
The agreement paved the way for a UN-backed interim government to be created in March 2021, temporarily mending Libya’s east-west split.
This arrangement was thrown into disarray when the December presidential vote was not held, and the Tobruk-based parliament in February chose a rival prime minister.
🇬🇧 Delighted that tonight I proudly announced the official reopening of the British Embassy in #Libya, a demonstration of the UK’s commitment to 🇱🇾
🇬🇧 will continue to work with Libyans and the UN on a durable political settlement for #Libya#PlatinumJubilee pic.twitter.com/m32ohgN0tr
— Caroline Hurndall (@CaroHurndall) June 5, 2022
Hurndall said: “I would like to acknowledge that many friends and colleagues from across the country are unable to be here with us tonight, because of the ongoing political and security challenges Libya faces.
“I ask that you hold our absent friends from across Libya in your thoughts this evening.”
Hurndall, who called UK-Libya ties “deep and enduring”, raised the British flag, saying this meant the embassy was officially reopened.
It is unclear how quickly the newly reopened embassy will begin providing services.
The UK government’s website still says that the embassy is closed and unable to offer consular help at the time of publication.
The embassy had closed its doors on 5 August 2014 amid an escalation of Libya’s years long conflict, which began with the toppling and killing of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.