On Monday, the director of the Public Sector’s General Administration for Financial Control, Rida Qirqab, was forcibly detained on orders from Minister of Interior Fathi Bashagha.
According to the Associated Press, the kidnapping of Qirqab has brought deep tensions in the Government of National Accord (GNA) to the surface at a time of a worsening economic crisis.
In a statement, the Audit Bureau alleged that Qirqab had been kidnapped for declining to turn a blind eye on illegal transactions made by the Interior Ministry.
It confirmed that this was a flagrant violation of the law that granted him legal immunity per Article 38 of Law No. 19 of 2013.
Many of Tripoli’s institutions, including the Interior Ministry, are staffed and controlled by unruly armed groups.
The Ministry of Interior stated it had detained Qirqab on the pretext that the public health crisis caused by COVID-19 required the disbursement of urgent funds to rescue the Libyan people and that the government was being undermined by the anti-corruption agency.
Power in Libya is divided between the Tripoli-based GNA, supported by Turkey, Qatar and a range of local militias, and the rival eastern-based House of Representatives, supported by forces under the command of Khalifa Hafter.
Although Hafter rules over most of Libya’s east and south, the Tripoli administration holds a distinct advantage by controlling the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), thus controlling the country’s oil revenues and billions of dollars in foreign reserves.
Earlier this year, tribal groups aligned with Haftar stopped the critical oil industry, choking off approximately 95% of the country’s income.
Hafter’s allies accused the GNA of using the country’s oil wealth to pay for Syrian fighters deployed to Libya by Turkey to defend Tripoli.
Haftar’s forces, backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Russia, have been trying to capture Tripoli for over a year.
The war has plunged into bloody deadlock and sunk the country further into chaos.
The collapse in world oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further drain Libya’s foreign reserves as the government struggles to stave off financial disaster.