Africa Intelligence: Sarraj Forced to Confront Muslim Brotherhood and Misratan Merchants Over Spat with Kabir – Al Marsad

Africa Intelligence, a leading news platform on energy, economy, politics and topics relevant to North African countries, published a report this week revealing that the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez al-Sarraj, was attempting to wrestle control of the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB) from the governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), Siddik al-Kabir. The present conflict between Mustafa Sanallah of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) and Siddik al-Kabir of the CBL is said to be part of this struggle over LIbya’s financial institutions.

(Libya, 29 November 2020) – The Africa Intelligence report said Fayez al-Sarraj was hoping to exploit the “lack of any political agreement on Libya’s future to keep his job. He is seeking to shore up his position by bringing national financial institutions under his sway, with the help of National Oil Corp boss Mustafa Sanallah.”

Fayez al-Sarraj. Mustafa Sanalla, and Siddik al-Kabir during better days (Archive)

SARRAJ CONFRONTS KABIR

The report also talked about the possibility of a confrontation between Sarraj and Kabir’s “powerful allies: the Muslim Brotherhood, the Misrati business community—which is well served in letters of credit—and Turkey.” What confirms this is the fact that one of key leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdul Razzaq Al-Aradi, made a complaint yesterday to the Attorney General against Sarraj because of the actions the latter took at the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB) .

The publication said that Sarraj wishes to stay in office until the December 2021 elections. He was sidelined by the various political forces, but the lack of any coherent agreement at UNSMIL’s Libyan Political Dialogue Group (LPDF) in choosing a new interim government, seems to have rekindled Sarraj’s ambitions to stay on and not resign as he had promised.

One key priority for Sarraj is to regain wrestle control of Libya’s key financial institutions from Kabir of the CBL. Sarraj is, therefore, collaborating closely with Mustafa Sanallah of the NOC.

CLASH OVER CONTROL OF LIBYAN FOREIGN BANK

The key clash took place when Sarraj “instructed his loyal finance minister Faraj Boumtari to appoint a new board of directors at the Libyan Foreign Bank Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB) on 16 November.” According to Africa Intelligence, this move was meant “declaring war on Central Bank of Libya (CBL) governor” given that al-Kabir had just placed some of his key men in the LFB.

The report said: “The LFB manages the dollar account where all sales of NOC oil are collected. It also emits letters of credit that finance imports. On 20 November Sarraj rejigged the board of the Libyan Investment Authority Investment Authority (LIA), appointing Ali Bani in place of Mustapha al-Manea, a Muslim Brotherhood heavyweight, and al-Kabir’s trusted man at the LIA. Sarraj on the same day confirmed his former chief of staff Yousef al-Mabrouk Yousef al-Mabrouk as LIA vice-president.”

Sarraj Overthrows Muslim Brotherhood’s Al-Manea from the LIA

Although the conflict between Sarraj and Kabir has been longstanding, yet “this time the prime minister received Sanalla’s key support”. The report said: “Using the pretext of a disagreement over accounts published by the CBL—revealing a deficit of $2.5bn in oil revenues—Sanalla announced on 22 November that he was suspending transfers of “his” petrodollars to the central bank.” It went on to add that the “suspension is set to continue until the bank sheds light on the use of the funds and the entities benefiting from them.”

NOC-CBL Conflict: Sanallah Accuses Al-Kabir of Manipulating Exchange Rates

Africa Intelligence argued in the report that this move by Sanallah provides the Sarraj the “opportunity to sack al-Kabir”. Additionally, it has the benefit of also complying with stipulations of the agreement for the resumption of oil production that was reached between Ahmed Maitiq of the Presidential Council and the the Commander-in-Chief of the Libyan National Army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The agreement demanded that “NOC revenues remain in escrow accounts at the LFB until a political solution is found.”

What Sanallah gets out of this is, according to Africa Intelligence, is “the creation of a reunified Petroleum Facilities Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) placed under his supervision.” I added: “The restructuring, backed by Sarraj, was provided for in the ceasefire agreement ratified on 23 October by the mixed military commission (of five army officers from the west and the same number from the east). It was the subject of a first meeting on 17 November in Brega attended by Sanallah and UN representative Stephanie Williams.”

On Sunday, the war of words between Sanallah and Kabir escalated with the former issuing a video message:

KABIR’S ALLIES

Kabir’s key allies—the Muslim Brotherhood and the Misratan business community “which is well served in letters of credit”, and Turkey—have already made their displeasure clear.

However, as Africa Intelligence rightly warns, Erdogan “needs to keep Sarraj on his side” given that they signed two MOU agreements, maritime and security, both of which are “crucial for Turkey’s ambitions in the Mediterranean.”

AGUILA-BASHAGHA TICKET IN JEOPARDY

The report also states that the LPDF is stumbling over the appointment of the Presidential Council and the Interim government and that the current GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha is “struggling to establish himself as Sarraj’s ‘natural” successor’.”

It adds, the “ticket [Bashagha] wanted to run on with the president of the Eastern House of Representatives, Aguila Salah Issa, would no longer be relevant, and Salah Issa risks being outvoted by representatives.”

Source: Africa Intelligence.

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