By Farah Waleed.
Benghazi, 23 September 2014:
Saddek Elkaber, fired by the House of Representatives from his job as governor of the Central . . .[restrict]Bank of Libya, has said that he is challenging the move in the courts. He has also indicated that he is stepping down temporarily while his case is heard.
He has explained that he wrote to the HoR five days ago pointing out that the Bank’s governor could only be ousted before the end of his statutory five-year term (which began two years ago) in exceptional circumstances, none of which had arisen in his case.
The HoR fired him ten days ago replacing him temporarily with his deputy Ali Salem Hibri. Elkaber had been accused of financial irregularities and had refused to travel to Tobruk to explain himself before the House. Instead, he had sent Hibri. The mood of Representatives may not have been improved at the start of this month when they complained that the Central Bank was not paying their salaries, a claim Elkaber denied.
It remains to be seen if judges will agree to hear his action. Nevertheless Elkaber’s letter to the HoR suggests a more emollient stance than that he was reported to have adopted initially. This was apparently to deny the validity of the HoR itself and therefore of his ouster.
If that was indeed his view at the time, he is now rowing back, arguing rather that the integrity of the Central Bank requires that it be protected from political interference.
“I do believe” he said in his statement issued in Tripoli today, “ … that the action undertaken by the House of Representatives erodes the independence of the institution and is potentially harmful to its stakeholders. A weak Central Bank or one which is vulnerable to political influence is a risky proposition”.
Elkaber said that he hoped that the legal process would be handled swiftly.
In the meantime, he said he “would like to reassure the public and investors that there will be no institutional vacuum at the Central Bank of Libya. Effective leadership succession will take its normal course within the Central Bank to ensure the responsibilities of the Governor on an interim basis”
He said that he had set out his position to the HoR in a letter on 18 September.
Meanwhile, he added, “I have no doubt that Central Bank of Libya will continue to fulfil its responsibilities to the highest degree of professionalism and transparency, in full cooperation with all authorities. The institution is strong, resilient and as ever committed to its direction and mandate”. [/restrict]