Head of Libya’s Cyrenaica Declares Semi-Autonomous Rule

The head of the Cyrenaica National Council in the eastern region of Libya declared the area semi-autonomous, a sign of growing territorial tensions in the country more than two years after Muammar Qaddafi was killed in an uprising.

Ahmed Al Zubeir As-Senussi, the council’s head, announced in a June 1 ceremony that the eastern Libyan region would be self-governed and have its own legislature, the state-owned news agency, LANA, reported.

There was no official reaction from the country’s central government in Tripoli. Thousands of people rallied in March 2012 in Tripoli and Benghazi, the second-largest city, in support of a unified Libya after some regional leaders had called for more autonomy.

Cyrenaica, called Barqa in Arabic, will be governed in accordance with the 1951 constitution, LANA cited As-Senussi as saying. As-Senussi wants to revive the federal system used under the late King Idris I who ruled over the regions of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan before unifying them in 1963. King Idris was overthrown by Qaddafi in 1969.

Libya holds the largest proven oil reserves in Africa and close to 80 percent of its reserves are located in the east.

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