Mladenov turns down offer to lead UN mission in Libya

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process, has turned down an offer to lead the UN mission in conflict-stricken Libya, according to a UN spokesman.

Mladenov told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday that he would not take up the position of special envoy for the North African country “for personal and family reasons,” says UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Mladenov’s term as Middle East peace envoy is set to expire at the end of the year and he’ll be replaced by Norway’s Middle East envoy, Tor Wennesland, according to the UN secretary-general.

Mladenov was appointed as the UN special envoy for the Middle East Peace Process in early 2015. Before that, he was the top UN envoy in Iraq, and had served as Bulgaria’s foreign minister from 2010 to 2013 and in the European Parliament from 2007 to 2009.

The United Nations Middle East special envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on June 25, 2020. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

He took the job a few months after the end of the deadliest, most destructive war between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian enclave of the Gaza Strip.

In recent years, Mladenov, alongside other mediators from Egypt and Qatar, played a significant role defusing numerous rounds of cross-border violence that threatened another war between Israel and Hamas.

He was to replace Ghassan Salame, the former UN envoy for Libya, who resigned in March amid fierce fighting between Libya’s rival sides over the capital, Tripoli.

UN acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams will continue leading the mission in Libya, and the UN would continue the search for Salame’s replacement, says the UN spokesman.