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Libya gives foreign firms three months to renew licences

Libya has given foreign firms three months to renew their licences [Corbis News]

Date of publication: 10 May, 2019

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Libya's Tripoli-based government has issued a decree requiring foreign firms to renew their licences within three months or face suspension.
Libya's government on Thursday threatened to suspend the operations of 40 foreign firms, ordering the companies to renew their licences within three months.

The move, which was announced by the internationally-recognised government's economy and industry minister in a decree, is seen as a way of pressuring European powers to intervene against rogue general Khalifa Haftar's military advance on Tripoli.

Among the firms expected to renew their licence is French oil giant Total.

Despite receiving backing from the UN and the majority of the international community, Libya's government headed by Fayez al-Sarraj has struggled to assert its authority over the war-torn country, with Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army threatening to unseat the administration from the capital.

Haftar, who was a Gaddafi-era military general, has enjoyed support from countries including Egypt, the UAE and France.

France-based Total is known to have extensive dealings in Libya, while other European firms have interests in the country including French aerospace firm Thales, Alcatel-Lucent and German engineering firm Siemens.

The Tripoli-based government has in recent days sought to shore up European support. Prime Minister Sarraj visited London on Thursday, where he met with UK foreign minister Jeremy Hunt.

Sarraj met with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, in a meeting which saw the French leader reiterate his support for the beleaguered Government of National Accord (GNA).

Last month, Libya accused France of backing Haftar.

Ahead of Sarraj's tour, Haftar urged his troops to "wipe out the enemy", in a message read out by LNA spokesman General Ahmad al-Mesmari late on Sunday, echoing similar comments made by Gaddafi during a pro-democracy uprising in 2011.

On Thursday, the World Health Organisation said 443 people have died and 2,110 have been wounded in violence in Tripoli since Haftar launched its assault last month.

Fighting in Tripoli's southern suburbs has so far displaced at least 35,000 people, UN humanitarian coordinator for Libya said on Monday.

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