Libyan-American group says UN begins investigating ex-envoy

Libyan-American group says UN begins investigating ex-envoy

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations has begun investigating the circumstances surrounding the hiring of the U.N.'s former envoy to Libya by the United Arab Emirates, which backs one of Libya's rival governments, a Libyan-American organization said Monday.

Bernardino Leon's hiring has been questioned after the Guardian newspaper last month quoted a leaked email from him to the Emirati foreign minister saying he had a strategy to "completely delegitimize" Libya's Islamist-backed government. As envoy, Leon was responsible for brokering a peace deal between the two rival governments.

Leon after accepted a job as director general of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, which trains Emiratis in foreign diplomacy, although he said recently that he is reflecting on whether to take up the position.

p>In response, the Libyan American Public Affairs Council filed a complaint with the U.N. demanding an investigation, saying Leon's actions as envoy threatened Libya's future. The group's co-founder, Emadeddin Muntasser, told The Associated Press that he spoke by phone Monday with a deputy director of the U.N.'s internal oversight office, who said the complaint has been assigned to an investigator.

The oversight office referred questions to spokesmen for the U.N. secretary-general, yet spokesman Farhan Haq said they have no way of knowing whether an individual case is being pursued.

"While we applaud this first step … it's significant that the investigation continues in a transparent & thorough way so that confidence & trust in the U.N. & its mediator system is restored," Muntasser said. He said he was given no details on how long an investigation might take.

The council is a non-governmental organization that says it is not affiliated with any government entity in Libya. It says it did not consult with or coordinate its complaint with Libya's Islamist-led government, which has moreover demanded an explanation from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Leon's actions

Libya is split between an Islamist-led government in the country's west & an internationally-recognized government in the east. Both are being urged by the international community to approve a proposed peace agreement.

Over the weekend, however, the two sides announced they had reached their own power-sharing agreement, shunning the U.N.-brokered deal to avoid "foreign intervention." The agreement still would need approval from both parliaments, & members from both sides quickly criticized it.

Leon, a Spanish diplomat, last month said he sees no conflict of interest in his actions as envoy & that the U.N.'s proposed Libya peace agreement is unbiased. But after The New York Times moreover reported on leaked emails approximately the UAE's actions in Libya, Leon issued a statement saying he was reflecting on whether to take the UAE government-funded job.

Source: “Associated Press”