Woman named new UN envoy to Afghanistan

NEW YORK (AFP): United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has named former Kyrgyzstan president Roza Otunbayeva as the UN’s new special representative for Afghanistan, his office announced Friday.

Otunbayeva became interim president of Kyrgyzstan in April 2010 after a bloody uprising forced then-leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev into exile. She relinquished power the following year after new elections were organized.

A former parliamentarian and government minister, she was also a deputy special representative of the former UN mission to Georgia. She is currently a member of a high-level UN council dealing with the mediation and prevention of conflicts.

She is replacing another woman, Canadian Deborah Lyons, as head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, where the rights of women and girls have been drastically curtailed since the Taliban’s return to power last year.

Separately, Guterres appointed Senegalese diplomat Abdoulaye Bathily as the UN’s envoy to Libya following a recent outbreak of fighting between rival governments.

The former Senegalese minister was previously the UN’s representative in Central Africa, special adviser to the secretary-general for Madagascar and deputy special representative for the UN mission in Mali.

The UN’s efforts to hold peace talks and pave the way for elections has come under renewed pressure after violence shook Tripoli in late July.