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Libya’s GNA Accused of Exacerbating Crisis in Tripoli

Libya’s GNA Accused of Exacerbating Crisis in Tripoli

Thursday, 28 May, 2020 - 08:30
Employees to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, Tripoli, Libya (File photo: Reuters)
Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

The Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayiz al-Sarraj, is accused of exacerbating the crisis and suffering of Tripoli's residents, who complain over increasing prices caused by the war and the health measures imposed to help confront COVID-19 virus.

Merchants and traders in the capital worry that the high prices and war will lead to serious financial losses, especially with the precautionary measures.

Kamal Kalisa, a home appliances trader in the Janzour region, told Asharq al-Awsat that his issues began with the war, noting that most merchants had warehouses on the outskirts of Tripoli or in its southern areas where armed clashes mainly occurred.

Kalisa indicated that the alternative storage areas cost more to rent and now with the lockdown measures because of the coronavirus, most businesses closed except for pharmacies and supermarkets.

He indicated that sales dropped 60 to 80 percent, and he now has to depend on friends and acquaintances who might need to buy a refrigerator or a washing machine.

Earlier this month, several shop owners gathered in Algeria Square in Tripoli asking Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha to allow them to resume business, similar to what traders did in Misrata, Az-Zawiyah, and other cities.

Kalisa explained that he is resorting to social media marketing to help promote his sales, however, citizens prioritize buying food supplies.

He indicated that if the dollar rate continues to increase and the situation in the city remains unstable, traders won’t be able to sell their merchandise.

Similarly, Hatem al-Majri, the financial officer of a ready-to-wear clothing company, said they had to close one of their branches because of the war, and the remaining two after the spread of the coronavirus.

He criticized the GNA for ignoring the demands of the merchants and not supporting them during this crisis.

In response, Interior Minister sent a letter to GNA’s Presidential Council, and suggested imposing a partial curfew that allows some businesses to open, stressing that they must adhere to the precautions. He also proposed imposing fines on those who violate the coronavirus measures.

Meanwhile, Tripoli’s mayor, Abdul-Raouf Beit al-Mal, said the traders’ complaints represent genuine fears of losing their businesses and source of income.

Prices increased significantly due to the high exchange rate which doubled this month, according to the mayor.

Beit al-Mal noted that the impact affected small business owners, however, he doesn’t believe they’ll go bankrupt, except for those who were struggling already.

The mayor believes the situation in Tripoli will improve in the coming days, especially after the Eid al-Fitr holiday. He also expected authorities to allow the resumption of business to alleviate the economic suffering of these merchants and compensate for their losses.

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