Libya’s self-proclaimed prime minister has warned the country that attempts by a rival government in the east to assert control over the oil industry could escalate beyond measure and the political conflict dividing the OPEC member state and force it to break in two. Reuters report:
Libya has had two governments competing for power since August when a group called Operation Libya Dawn, which opponents say is backed by Islamists, seized Tripoli and forced the elected Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to flee 1,000 km to a small city near the border with Egypt. Both sides have so far avoided talking publicly about prospect of a split.
The warning by Omar al-Hassi, prime minister of the rival government, came after Thinni’s government claimed air strikes on Tripoli’s Mitigate airport this week, escalating a confrontation that started with an attack by Libya Dawn on a rival force in Tripoli in July.
The new rulers in the capital are not recognized by the United Nations and world powers but have taken over ministries, oil facilities, airports and much of western and central Libya.
In a step to assert control over the oil industry, Thinni’s government said on Wednesday it had appointed a new chairman of the National Oil Corp. Thinni had initially retained the state oil firm’s previous head, Mustafa Sanallah, but he remains in Tripoli.