January 20, 2020 / 1:41 PM / a month ago

INTERVIEW-Libya will face catastrophe if oil blockade continues -Tripoli premier

BERLIN, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Libya will face a “catastrophic situation” unless foreign powers put pressure on eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar to lift a blockade of oilfields that has cut output to almost zero, the country’s internationally recognised premier said on Monday.

Since Friday, Haftar’s forces have closed Libya’s major oil ports in a power play as foreign powers were meeting with his supporters in Berlin at the weekend to push him to halt a military campaign to capture the capital Tripoli.

Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj told Reuters he rejects eastern demands to link a reopening of oil ports to a new distribution of oil revenues among Libyans, saying such income was in any case meant to benefit the entire country.

“The situation will be catastrophic should it stay like this,” Serraj said in an intervierw in Berlin.

“I hope foreign countries will follow the issue,” he said when asked whether he wanted them to lean on Haftar to lift the blockade of Libya’s Mediterranean oil export terminals.

Much of Libya’a oil wealth is located in the east of the sprawling North African state but revenues are channelled through Tripoli-based state oil firm NOC, which says it serves the whole country and stays out of its factional conflicts. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing and Nadeen Ebrahim Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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