Regional group declares self-government for east Libya

TRIPOLI Sun Jun 2, 2013 11:50am EDT

Cyrenaica congress leader Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi (R) arrives for the second Congress of the People of Cyrenaica in Beida, 200 km (124 miles) east of Benghazi, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

Cyrenaica congress leader Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi (R) arrives for the second Congress of the People of Cyrenaica in Beida, 200 km (124 miles) east of Benghazi, April 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Esam Al-Fetori

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TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The leader of a political group in Libya's oil-rich Cyrenaica province declared it a self-governing region in a speech on Saturday, evidence of growing pressure for a planned new constitution to adopt a federal structure.

Ahmed Zubair al-Senussi, head of the Cyrenaica Council and a distant relative of Libya's last king, has no formal authority under current transitional arrangements and it is not clear how he would be able to implement the declaration on the ground.

His council, however, is representative of factions in the east that have become more unified by concerns over how to establish the rule of law in a country awash with weapons and rival militias two years after the end of the war to depose Muammar Gaddafi.

The national assembly in Tripoli said it would form a committee to examine the declaration by Senussi, which included promises to form a new parliament and security force for the region.

"As of today, Cyrenaica is a federal region within the framework of the Libyan state," Senussi said in a speech to a rally in the eastern town of al-Marj. "Cyrenaica will activate the 1951 constitution and establish a parliament."

Calls for federal rule have become more vocal since Gaddafi's overthrow in 2011, fuelled by familiar complaints in the east of the country that it has not been given a fair share of Libya's wealth and the weakness of the central government.

But Senussi gave no timeline for implementing his proposals and called for the Tripoli government, which is leading the nation as it prepares to write a new constitution, to transfer money to the region.

For about 10 years after it became an independent state in 1951, Libya was run along federal lines, with power devolved to Cyrenaica, the southern province of Fezzan, and Tripolitania in the west of the country.

Libya centralized its government in the last years of the rule of King Idris, and Gaddafi accelerated the process when he came to power in a military coup in 1969.

The eastern city of Benghazi was the cradle of the 2011 uprising but residents now complain of Tripoli's inability to provide security by disarming militias or moving towards writing a constitution.

(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib; additional reporting by Firas Bosalum in Benghazi; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Patrick Graham)

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Comments (3)
chekovmerlin wrote:
The Barbary States of Jefferson’s time and of the time of the Marine Corp hymn (. . .”To the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our nation’s battles. . “)has come back into vogue. Probably a federation of three states, two on the coast and one inland. Probably as it should be before the European camel put it’s nose under the North African Tent (after the fall of Rome and the Byzantine Empire).

Jun 02, 2013 1:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
reality-again wrote:
Federalism may prove to offer a solution to some of the Middle East’s lingering problems that in many cases result from President Woodrow Wilson’s failure to implement European-style nation-states in what used to be the Ottoman Empire.

Jun 02, 2013 3:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Munier wrote:
Federalism will bring no good if the argument is about fair share of Libya’s wealth and the weakness of central government as those two reasons contradicting each other

Jun 06, 2013 8:16am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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