Disagreements in Libya over competing bank notes from rival central banks

There have been angry protests in Tripoli Wednesday over the lack of cash available at banks.

There are long lineups at banks waiting to withdraw cash. The UN-backed Government of National Accord(GNA) and the Tripoli-based Central Bank of Libya(CBL) are having new banknotes produced by De LaRue in the UK.

The rival eastern-based Central Bank is having new notes issued printed in Russia for the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR). The notes have arrived and distribution began today. The eastern bank notes have different security features, watermarks, and serial numbers.

At first, the Presidential Council(PC) of the GNA claimed the eastern notes were counterfeit a position immediately supported by the US embassy.

However, the PC has since reversed its policy after meeting with representatives of the rival CBL and accepted the notes. It sees them as a way to help the cash shortage that is causing the GNA to lose support. However, the head of the Tripoli-based CBL has rejected the bills. As a recent tweet put it: ​"#Libya Eastern central bank currency distributed today. UN-backed govt says it is national currency but Tripoli central bank says it is not."

It is not clear whether the eastern notes will also be distributed in the western areas under control of the GNA. The confusion can only bring the UN-backed GNA into greater disrepute.

The GNA is supposed to begin its term only after a formal vote of confidence from the HoR. Meetings to have the vote have been either without a quorum or disrupted. The GNA has activated itself anyway with the support of the UN and the international community.

The UN and most of the international community recognize only the GNA and the Tripoli-based LCB but the HoR refuses to recognize the GNA until it votes confidence in it. The HoR has its own central bank and national oil company. The HoR is very much under the control of General Khalifa Haftar a former CIA operative who is commander in chief of the Libyan National Army.

He does not recognize the GNA.

​Since May 2014 his Operation Dignity has been attempting to clear Libya of Islamists which would also include some associated with the GNA.



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