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Disputes Erupt over Sarraj’s Efforts to Unite Libya’s Central Bank

Disputes Erupt over Sarraj’s Efforts to Unite Libya’s Central Bank

Sunday, 5 April, 2020 - 05:30
People wear protective masks, as part of precautionary measures against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as they stand in a queue at a bank in Misrata, Libya March 22, 2020. (Reuters)
Cairo – Jamal Jawhar

Disputes erupted in Libya after head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj announced that he intends to unite Libya’s central banks.

One bank is located in the capital Tripoli in the west and the other is based in al-Bayda in the east. The banks split into rival administrations in 2014.

Sarraj called for an emergency meeting to “save the country” and unite the banks, prompting objection from governor of the Tripoli-based bank, Sadiq al-Kabir.

Kabir rejected Sarraj’s call, saying he was the first to urge the unification of the banks back in 2015.

Kabir, who was stripped of his post by the east-based parliament, has been aligned with Sarraj since his appointment to his position in 2017. Tensions soon emerged between them in what observers said was due to Kabir’s reluctance to step down from his post even after the parliament stripped him of his position.

A pro-Sarraj official told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Muslim Brotherhood branch in the central bank wants to impose its “full control” over the administration, predicting that tensions will intensify between the GNA chief and Kabir.

He urged foreign powers, such as the United States, to intervene and ease the crisis.

In a statement Friday, Kabir accused the presidential council, headed by Sarraj, of failing to take the necessary measures to restore oil production and exports. This has consequently negatively impacted all state institutions and is the root cause of Libya’s economic and financial crisis.

On eastern Libya, Kabir said he shut banking operations in the central bank there as a “precaution” because the deputy governor had allocated accounts to “outlaws”.

Political analyst Issa Abdulqayyoum rejected the claim, saying Kabir was using it as an excuse to act against the legally, constitutionally and democratically elected east-based parliament.

Amid the mounting tensions, four members of the central bank’s board called for Kabir’s suspension and for forming an executive committee that would assume the role of the governor in line with article 18 of the bank’s regulations.

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