Libyan oil minister interrupts the head of state’s oil

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Libya’s oil minister suspended the head of the country’s oil company and escalated a conflict between the two on Sunday.

Oil Minister Mohamed Oun said in a letter, confirmed by ministry sources, that National Oil Corps chief Mustafa Sanallah was under investigation and had been suspended.

Oun said last week that Sanallah could not serve as NOC chief while traveling abroad. He appointed Jadallah al-Awkali to run the company during Sanallah’s absence.

Sanallah rejected that decision, saying there was no law allowing Oun, who was appointed as part of the UN-backed National Unity Government (GNU) to take office in March, to appoint an acting NOC chief.

The role is seen in Libya as a sovereign position whose appointment may require the agreement of other political entities such as Parliament.

NOC officials were not immediately available for comment, but the company issued a statement at an internal meeting that Sanallah had held “working in a team spirit” that did not directly refer to Oun’s letter.

The NOC is Libya’s most important economic asset, providing most of the public revenue even during a decade of violence and chaos that has challenged the orderly control of almost all government institutions.

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