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UN extends Libya mission after US-Russia clash

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations (UN) Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to extend the UN political mission in Libya for three months, with the United States (US) and Britain accusing Russia of blocking a longer and more substantive mandate that would include promoting reconciliation of the country’s rival governments now claiming power.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow insisted on a three-month extension to pressure UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to urgently appoint a new special representative to head the mission, known as UNSMIL.

The former UN special envoy, Jan Kubis, resigned on November 23 after 10 months on the job.

Nebenzia said in the absence of a new envoy, the UN mission “has been unable to provide substantial support for the political process in Libya for more than six months.”

He blamed some unidentified members of the Security Council who he claimed “are not ready to accept a scenario where UNSMIL is guided by an African representative,” saying their opposition is “non-constructive” and “a manifestation of neo-colonialism.” Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward, who oversaw negotiations on the resolution, said after the vote that “Russia has once again isolated itself by not joining consensus with the 14 other members of the council” who supported a one-year substantive mandate.

US deputy ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis said a short mandate “severely complicates” the UN’s ability to recruit a new head of for the mission and “creates uncertainty for the Libyan people and their leaders over the Security Council’s commitment to Libya.”