Renegade Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar has announced the conditional lifting of a months-long blockade on oil fields and ports by his forces.
In January, supporters of Haftar, the commander of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), shut down the country’s oil fields and terminals in a bid to put pressure on their rivals, the government-based National Accord. Tripoli, recognized by the UN (GNA).
The blockade caused serious losses in Libya, as oil is the country’s main source of income.
“We have decided to resume the production and export of oil on the condition of a fair distribution of income” and to guarantee that they “will not be used to support terrorism,” Haftar said on television on Friday.
Pro-Haftar groups backed by the Petroleum Facilities Guard blocked oil fields and key export terminals on January 17 to demand what they called a fair share of the oil revenues.
The blockade, which resulted in a loss of revenues of more than $ 9.8 billion according to the National Petroleum Company (NOC), has exacerbated power and fuel shortages in the country.
Haftar said the command of his forces had “put aside all military and political considerations” to respond to the “deteriorating conditions” in Libya, which has Africa’s largest oil reserves.
The announcement comes after hundreds of Libyans protested last week in the eastern city of Benghazi, one of Haftar’s strongholds, and other cities against corruption, power cuts and power shortages. gasoline and money.
Initially, protesting peacefully, the demonstrators on Sunday set fire to the parallel eastern government headquarters in Benghazi and attacked the Al-Marj police station.
Police fired live ammunition to disperse them in Al-Marj, killing at least one person and injuring many, according to witnesses and the United Nations mission in Libya.
Libya has been in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The country’s oil revenues are managed by the NOC and the central bank, both based in Tripoli.
Haftar – who has the backing of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia – launched an offensive against Tripoli in April last year.
After 14 months of fierce fighting, pro-GNA forces backed by Turkey expelled its troops from much of western Libya and pushed them towards Sirte, the gateway to rich oil fields and Libya’s export terminals.