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Tripoli accuses Belgium of trying to confiscate Libyan assets

The head of Libya’s unity government on Wednesday accused Belgium of seeking to confiscate his country’s assets, frozen by the United Nations since 2011.

“We have a problem with Belgium,” Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah told a cabinet meeting.

“The Belgian authorities… are trying once again to seize Libyan funds in Belgium.”

He said Belgium had sought permission from the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee to seize the funds.

The UNSC placed Libya’s foreign assets in receivership during the country’s 2011 uprising against longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, to avoid possible theft.

The Kadhafi regime had built a vast portfolio of assets across the world, including an estimated 14 billion euros ($15 billion) in Belgium.

His fall and killing by rebels sparked years of legal wrangling between those states and Libya.

The funds in Belgium are the subject of a dispute that also involves Belgian Prince Laurent, brother of King Philippe.

The prince has been seeking compensation from Libya after his charity, the Global Sustainable Development Trust, invested tens of millions of euros in a reforestation project that never went ahead due to Kadhafi’s fall.

“I call on Belgium to respect Libya,” Dbeibah said.

“We want to protect and defend our money.”

He said a Libyan delegation would head to Brussels to try to settle the matter.

Libya has Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, but a decade of conflict has left many of its citizens in poverty and created an ongoing liquidity crisis.