BENGHAZI, Libya, Sept 2 Libya's central bank on
Tuesday warned all parties involved in the conflict gripping the
country to leave the institution alone as its violation could
prompt the international community to freeze Libya's foreign
The central bank is one of the last functioning state
institutions in the North African country where armed groups
seized the capital Tripoli last month. The government and
elected parliament have relocated to a remote eastern city.
The latest turmoil is part of a wider struggle gathering
pace since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 over who holds
political power and controls the country's vast oil reserves.
On Sunday, the central government said it had lost control
of most ministries in Tripoli, leaving oil and other trading
partners puzzled whether the central bank was still under
official control. Oil revenues, Libya's dominant source of
income, are booked at the bank.
"The central bank is the last defence line of state
institutions and it is very important that it stays far away
from political struggles," the bank said in a statement, adding
that it would remain neutral and follow the law.
The international community might freeze assets again if
"pressure continued on the central bank and attempts to violate
its stability," the statement said.
Earlier on Tuesday, a British envoy visited the House of
Representatives at its new seat in the eastern town of Tobruk to
show support against a rival assembly set up by armed groups in
The international community froze most of Libya's assets
during the eight-month uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in
2011 and until now the central bank has struggled to retrieve
all of them.
Libya held around $109 billion in foreign cash reserves and
equity stakes abroad, the latest data released in June showed.
Its foreign reserves are mostly held on bank accounts abroad.
Western powers and Libya's neighbours fear the country will
turn into a failed state and become a safe haven for Islamist
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing and Feras Bosalum; Editing by Raissa