Libyan government says has lost control of most Tripoli ministries

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 01, 2014 5:51 AM

CAIRO (Reuters) - Libya's government said it has lost control of most ministries and state institutions located in Tripoli after rival armed groups took over the capital.

Last month, senior officials and the elected parliament moved to the remote eastern city of Tobruk as an alliance of armed factions led by forces from the western city of Misrata took control of Tripoli, having expelled a rival group.

Libya is descending into anarchy as former rebels who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 have turned their guns on each other as they seek to set the country's political agenda and control its vast oil reserves.

"We announce that most ministries, institutions and state bodies in the capital Tripoli are out of our control," the government said in a statement late on Sunday. Armed groups had prevented staff from entering some government buildings, it added.

All ministries, the state-oil National Oil Corp (NOC) and central bank are located in the capital.

The persistent violence has not affected oil production but traders have said ownership of the oil might be subject to legal challenges if the Misrata forces take control of the central bank, where crude revenues are booked.

The new forces controlling Tripoli, some with Islamist leanings, have refuse to recognize the Tobruk House of Representatives, which has a strong liberal and federalist presence.

They have reconvened the previous parliament, the General National Congress, in which Islamists were strongly represented.

Western powers and Libya's neighbors fear the North African country will turn into a failed state as the government lacks the backing of an army or police force to control the various armed groups.

(Reporting by Ulf Laessing, editing by John Stonestreet)