Business suspended for 40 foreign firms in Libya

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Libya’s internationally recognised government suspended operations of 40 foreign firms including French oil firm Total, a government official said.

The ministry said the firms’ licences had expired, according to an online decree the authenticity of which was confirmed by a ministry official.

Total is a major oil player in Libya pumping more than a million barrels of oil a day.

Ties between Tripoli, home to the internationally recognised government, and France have been strained because Paris has ties to Tripoli as well as Khalifa Haftar, a commander whose troops have been trying to take the capital in a month-long battle.

Last month, the Tripoli-based interior ministry suspended security co-operation with France, accusing Paris of backing Haftar.

On Wednesday, Tripoli Premier Fayez al-Serraj visited Paris, part of a tour to European capitals to drum up support.

After meeting Serraj, President Emmanuel Macron called for a ceasefire in the battle for Tripoli.

Haftar, a former general in Gaddafi’s army who later turned against him, enjoys the backing of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. He received military support from France which helped him take over Benghazi in 2017.