Group declares self-govt for east Libya
03 June 2013, 11:55
Tripoli - 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 centralised 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.