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Libya in Dire Straits Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

Situation
Libya’s crude oil output allegedly rises to close to 1.6 billion bpd, but security remains a very fluid thing. Sporadic fighting is taking place throughout the country, including in Tripoli and Benghazi, as the national army faces a challenge in exerting its authority. In the ongoing chaos, oil executive Abdul Majeed Shiha, a director of Akakus Oil Operations, was kidnapped in Tripoli last week by an unidentified armed group. He was released hours later without ransom, though his vehicle and mobile phone were confiscated. The motive of the kidnapping remains unclear and highlights the arbitrary nature of violence that has engulfed Libya. One parliamentary candidate was assassinated last week in the Southwestern city of Obari. 

Dynamics
Libya is home to Africa’s biggest oil reserves, and the fledgling central government is not capable of maintaining control, while the economy is stagnate and security remains elusive at best. Tribal leaders in the eastern province of Cyrenaica, and its largest city of Benghazi, are not ready to subordinate themselves to the National Transition Council (NTC) in Tripoli.

Prognosis
Further tensions are expected as the country gears up for 19 June parliamentary elections and the campaigning season starts off. Bomb attacks and violent demonstrations will pick up momentum as the poll date nears. More protests and attacks directed at oil related figures and installations should be expected in the coming weeks, as the NTC cannot protect its oil producing facilities, either from attack or from boiling socio-economic unrest.

By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com



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