Libyan (OPCRLIBY) tribal leaders declared the formation of a semi-autonomous region in the oil-rich east of the country a day after thousands rallied against the plan and the central government struggles with reconstruction.
The self-governing region of Barqa, or Cyrenaica, will administer itself and follow the national government in areas such as defense and foreign affairs, said Abdul Hakk Mabrouk, a speaker at the conference in Benghazi to declare the semi- autonomous area.
“The federation does not mean division, but organization,” Abdul Moniem Al-Obeidi, the organizer of the conference and a member of the influential Al-Obeidat tribe, said today. “Federation means fragmentation of the central government and not the nation.”
Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib has rejected calls for a federation, saying such change isn’t necessary because his new administration is working to decentralize government and services. He spoke on state television yesterday.
Hundreds gathered yesterday in Tripoli, the capital, and Benghazi, the second-largest city, to condemn the plan that would transform Libya into a federation, according to state-run television. The demonstrators said they fought to depose Muammar Qaddafi to create a unified Libya.
Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council declared victory over Qaddafi’s forces on Oct. 23, three days after his death at the hands of rebel fighters. While Libya’s oil reserves, the largest in Africa, may help the government rebuild the country’s economy quickly, the administration faces the hurdle of uniting the groups that rose up against Qaddafi’s regime and dealing with the remainder of his supporters.
El-Keib has proposed an administrative division of the North African country that would create 12 governorates, his office said. The proposal gives each governorate a budget allocation proportionate to its population, with Tripoli getting 30 percent and Benghazi 25 percent.
Historically, tensions between east and west in Libya result from rivalries among the country’s scores of tribes and from Qaddafi’s efforts to divide the country’s riches and power among the tribes that supported him.
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