German career diplomat Martin Kobler has taken over the duties of Bernardino Leon as UN envoy to Libya. The change came following what Libyan affairs observers considered a Libya-gate scandal in the wake of the leaked emails of Leon, obtained by the Guardian and the Middle East Eye. The Guardian published its findings short after the UEA announced that Leon had accepted a well-paid job to head a diplomacy academy in the Emirates. On 12 Nov. The New York Times revealed more damaging emails which indicated correspondence with the UEA’s diplomatic circles about the monarchy’s transfer of arms to Libya in breach of the international arms embargo on Libya, as well as Abu Dhabi’s involvement in weapons trade with North Korea. The revelations have had a negative impact within Libya and beyond on the UN’s role and the impartiality of Leon’s process. On a related matter, an Emirati was arrested at the Tripoli airport and charged with espionage. Libyan media reported that he was found with documents and video recordings of key government institution building and embassies including the Turkish, the British and central bank. While the GNC had wrote to Bank Ki Moon seeking answers as to Leon’s behaviour, the Tobruk-HoR did not make any reaction to the embarrassing revelations. Before Leon was replaced, the whole affair had motivated some voices within the GNC, political parties and other Libyan figures to abandon the Leon process and launch a local Libyan dialogue initiative. In fact, even before the Guardian’s and the NY Time’s revelations a number of local initiatives had been underway in Libya. Two initiatives have gained popularity so far. These are the Southerners’ Initiative and the National Concord Gathering Initiative. The second rally of the latter would take place on 25 Nov. in Gharyan, west Tripoli, while a meeting of the Southerners’ Initiative aimed at bringing together members of the GNC and the HoR is scheduled to take place in the southern town of Houn, by the end of the month.
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