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Updated Apr 10, 2020

Since the resignation of Ghassan Salamé as the United Nations special envoy to Libya at the beginning of March, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Algerian diplomat and former minister of foreign affairs Ramtane Lamamra would be his successor. Yet, following opposition from the United States, for reasons that have not been formally disclosed, sources close to Agence France-Presse report that UN Secretary-General António Guterres is seeking a new candidate.

Lamamra first entered diplomatic service in 1976 and has built up a reputation as a reliable mediator for issues pertaining to Algeria and Africa at large. His most recent appointment came in 2017 as the African Union’s high representative for its Silencing the Guns initiative. He was also viewed as a relatively neutral actor regarding Libya. Nonetheless, his appointment was rejected by Khalifa Haftar, who is currently waging war against the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), as well as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which back Haftar.

Anonymous diplomats at the United Nations suggested to AFP that these countries also lobbied the United States to push against Lamamra’s appointment. They claim the Algerian holds too close a relationship with the GNA. A separate source posited that Lamamra may be too close to Russia, who has also offered support to Haftar despite official denial.

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