By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) – UN experts on Friday called on all private military contractors and mercenaries to leave Libya immediately, saying their departure is "overdue" and a "vital precondition" for the peaceful elections planned for this year.
Jelena Aparac, head of the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, and four group members, Lilian Bobea, Chris Kwaja, Ravindran Daniel, and Sorcha MacLeod, said that the mercenaries could also affect the security and stability of other countries in the region.
"Nine months after the cease-fire agreement calling for the withdrawal of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya, mercenaries and private military and security contractors continue to operate in the country," said Aparac.
"Their continued recruitment and presence in Libya impede progress in the peace process and constitute an obstacle for the upcoming elections."
The experts cited "well-trained and well-armed private contractors" from Russia, Syria, Sudan, and Chad operating in Libya, some of whom meet the criteria for mercenaries.
They could also negatively affect the security and stability of other countries in the region, the experts warned.
These mercenary and mercenary-related actors, the experts said, must leave immediately, and there must be an immediate end to the transfer of military weapons and equipment into Libya.
"We appeal to the international community to take concrete steps to aid this process," Aparac said.
- Dec. 24 elections
In the UN-facilitated Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, participants agreed on a roadmap for credible, inclusive and democratic national elections scheduled for Dec. 24.
"If elections are to be held in December 2021 as scheduled, Libyans should be able to undertake that process in a safe and secure environment, and the presence of these actors impedes that," Aparac said.
In June 2020, the UN Working Group warned that reliance on mercenaries and related actors since 2019 had contributed to the escalation of the conflict in Libya and undermined the peace process.
Their presence was a "breach of the existing arms embargo" imposed by the UN Security Council.
At that time, they urged governments to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and humanitarian law violations.
"There must be real accountability for abuses committed by mercenaries, mercenary-related actors, and private contractors," said the experts.