Feb 26, 2020 15:53 UTC
  • Libya’s rival government says force cannot end blockade on eastern oil fields

Libya’s eastern-based rival government says a blockade on oil ports and fields in the country’s east was imposed based on a “popular decision,” and that the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) could not force eastern tribesmen to put an end to it.

Abdulhadi Lahweej, the foreign minister of the rival government, told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday, “We cannot use our power to lift the blockade.”

He said that the parallel government, which is based in the eastern city of Tobruk, was using oil revenues to pay for thousands of Syrian mercenaries fighting alongside its troops.

Since 2014, Libya has been divided between the GNA and the camp in Tobruk, supported militarily by rebel forces loyal to renegade General Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar’s forces blocked the eastern oil ports and fields in mid-January in a bid to block the flow of revenues to the GNA.

The GNA, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, has previously sought Turkey’s support against its rival. The Haftar loyalists receive support from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Lahweej reiterated that his side, led by Haftar, would not join peace talks with the GNA, which were to start in Geneva on Wednesday, saying there was no agreement with the UN mission on its representatives. “The participation for the moment is suspended.”

The United Nations had planned to bring together lawmakers from both sides of the conflict on Wednesday to end the fighting over Tripoli.

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