US Embassy alarmed by power struggle at Libyan oil company | Economic news

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NOHA ELHENNAWY, Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in Libya on Thursday expressed concern over the fight for control of the Libyan oil company after its chairman was sacked by one of Libya’s two rival governments. .

The embassy tweeted that US officials were following the developments with “deep concern”. She added that the National Oil Corporation preserved its political independence and worked effectively under President Mustafa Sanalla, as a sign of American support for him.

It came a day after the Tripoli-based government of Abdul Hamid Dbeibah announced the dismissal of Sanallah and the appointment of Farhat Bengdara, a former governor of Libya’s Central Bank, as the country’s new oil chief. . Dbeibah also announced the appointment of a four-member commission to oversee the handover. This happened as Sanallah and his board were out of office to celebrate the Eid Al Adha holiday.

Sanallah refused to leave office, arguing in a televised speech that Dbeibah’s government lacked legitimacy.

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“The announced replacement of the NOC Board of Directors may be challenged in court but should not be the subject of armed confrontation,” the US Embassy said.

Earlier on Thursday, the CNO issued a statement saying that military vehicles belonging to a militia allied to Dbeibah were parked inside its premises. The NOC’s statement said it would hold Dbeibah responsible for any attempt to disrupt their work.

In a video shared on social media, NOC staff appeared to gather at the entrance to the NOC building to prevent members of the Dbeibah-appointed commission from intervening. However, later the Dbeibah government announced that the commission and the new oil chief had entered the building and taken over.

The North African country has been wracked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising-turned-civil war toppled and then killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. For many years, Libya has been divided between two administrations, one in the east and the other in the east. in the west, each backed by foreign governments and local militias.

The country’s prized light crude has long been a feature of Libya’s civil war, with rival militias and foreign powers jostling for control of Africa’s biggest oil reserves.

In its statement, the US Embassy called on all parties to restore oil and gas production to address power shortages and establish a “transparent” revenue management and control mechanism. tankers.

In recent months, tribal leaders have shut down crucial oil facilities, including the country’s largest oilfield in the south. The blockage was likely aimed at starving Dbeibah’s government of funds and empowering his rival, Fathi Bashagha, who was named prime minister by the east-based parliament in February.

The shutdown has exacerbated electricity shortages in the country and sparked nationwide protests, including one that resulted in the storming of the eastern-based parliament headquarters in Tobruk.

Libyan lawmakers insist Dbeibah’s term expired last year after he failed to hold general elections in December, as dictated by a UN-brokered roadmap.

In recent months, the UN has sponsored several rounds of talks between the country’s two rival legislative bodies to agree on a constitutional mechanism to hold elections – without results.

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