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UN Chief Names New Head of Libyan Mission

  • VOA News

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named Spanish diplomat Bernardino Leon as the special U.N. envoy to Libya, which is experiencing some of its bloodiest fighting since the 2011 fall of long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

In a statement Thursday, Ban said Leon will replace Tarek Mitri of Lebanon, who has served as head of the U.N. political mission in Libya (UNSMIL) since 2012.

The U.N. chief praised Leon for his many years of political and diplomatic experience. Leon most recently served as the European Union's special envoy for Libya and has also held positions with the Spanish government.

Libya has been torn by fighting between rival militias since last month, as the country seeks to transition politically since the fall of Gadhafi.

Earlier this week, Libya’s newly elected parliament voted to dismantle the militias, which sprouted in the fight to bring down Gadhafi. The legislature ordered the groups to join the Libyan military and police by the end of the year and asked the United Nations for an "international intervention" in Libya.

Nearly 200,000 people are estimated to be on the government payroll as part of various militias.