By Libya Herald reporter.
Tripoli, 5 November 2015:
Fearing arrest by militias, currency dealers in Tripoli kept their shops shut today after they . . .[restrict]were denounced on TV last night by Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani as criminals. The attack followed the dinar’s continuing collapse on the black market, now the only available source of foreign currency for most Libyans. In the past three days it has fallen 15 percent against the dollar. At the few dealers willing to exchange currency today, it was trading at LD 3.74 to the dollar.
Ghariani, Libya’s grand mufti in the eyes of the authorities in Tripoli, declared that the dealers were profiteering and that they had to be stopped. Buying foreign currency, he added, could not now be allowed unless absolutely necessary – such as having to go abroad for medical reasons or study.
Ghariani’s statements are viewed as fatwas by his supporters and pro-Islamist militias, and there were unconfirmed reports that a number of dealers were detained this morning and taken to Mitiga airbase. However, the Rada (“deterrence”) forces, led by Mitiga-based Abdul Raouf Kara, which were said to have been involved in the last clampdown on dealers at the end of August, have issued a statement denying that they were involved in any arrests today.
Ghariani’s intervention and the intimidation of the dealers are unlikely to have any effect on the slide in the dinar. It is seen as the result of a lack of confidence that a settlement of the Libyan crisis is going to happen soon.
With most goods in Libya imported, the slide has triggered spiralling inflation. The cost of bread alone has risen fivefold and today there were long queues again at petrol stations in the capital as fears spread that there would be shortages of fuel, much of which is also imported. [/restrict]