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Libya’s security forces release ex-minister whose detention prompted oil closure, tribal elder says

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A Libyan tribal elder says security authorities in the capital, Tripoli released a former minister less than a week after his detention

CAIRO — Security authorities in the Libyan capital of Tripoli released a former minister Saturday less than a week after his detention which had prompted his tribesmen to shut down crucial oil fields, a tribal elder said.

Former Finance Minister Faraj Bumatari, who hails from the al-Zawi tribe in southeastern Libya, walked free Saturday afternoon from detention in Tripoli, said al-Senussi al-Zawi, one of the tribe’s elders.

“I spoke with him by phone, and he is awaiting a flight to the east” of Libya, al-Zawi told The Associated Press by phone.

Bumatari was detained earlier this week by the Tripoli-based Internal Security Agency which is allied with the government of Prime Minister Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, according to local media.

His detention was prompted by his bid to replace Sadiq al-Kabir as governor of the Central Bank of Libya, according to al-Zawi. Al-Kabir, a divisive figure in Libya, is a close ally of Dbeibah.

Dbeibah’s government didn’t comment on Bumatari’s detention.

To force his release, Bumatari’s tribe shut down crucial oil fields, which produce hundreds of thousands of barrels per day.

Al-Zawi didn’t say when they would allow the resumption of oil production. Local media, however, said technical teams were working to restart production from the closed fields.

Libya’s prized oil output has been subjected to repeated closures for different political reasons and local protesters’ demands during the chaotic decade since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The North African country has been divided between two rival governments, each backed by international patrons and numerous armed militias on the ground.

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