Tripoli – A Libyan youth leader was abducted by unidentified gunmen after calling for demonstrations in support of scheduled December elections, the UN said, voicing concern for his safety.
Imad al-Harathi, head of the North African country’s National Youth League, “was reportedly abducted by unknown armed men from his NYL office in Tripoli on 26 September,” the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement late Tuesday.
The abduction of the head of the NYL, a state-linked body, followed “his call for peaceful demonstrations in support of elections on 24 December. His whereabouts remain unknown,” the UN mission added.
UNSMIL stressed the importance of the freedom of expression and assembly and called for Harathi’s “immediate release and for a prompt and thorough investigation into his abduction”.
The transitional government led by businessman Abdelhamid Dbeibah in Tripoli has not reacted to the kidnapping.
Libya has sought to emerge from a decade of chaos since the 2011 fall of Moamer Kadhafi’s regime, a period marked by bloody violence involving militias, foreign fighters and jihadist groups.
After the end of fighting in mid-2020, a unified transitional government was formed earlier this year under UN auspices, with the aim of leading the country to elections scheduled for December 24.
Despite political progress in recent months, the security situation in the oil-rich country remains precarious.
In June, a representative of the Red Crescent Society in Libya was abducted by unknown assailants in the east, a region under the de facto control of strongman Khalifa Haftar where kidnappings and assassinations are frequent.
In mid-August, a Libyan government official was released two weeks after he was kidnapped in Tripoli by unidentified gunmen.