Libya's eastern leader 'ready for talks'
09 March 2012, 15:51
Benghazi - The head of a regional council seeking to carve out an
autonomous territory in oil-rich east Libya said late on Thursday that
he accepted the interim national leader's call for dialogue.
accept the National Transitional Council's dialogue invitation," Ahmed
Zubair al-Senussi told journalists in the eastern city of Benghazi.
a conference in Benghazi on Tuesday that was attended by thousands,
tribal and political leaders unilaterally declared the region of
Cyrenaica (Berqa in Arabic) autonomous, prompting fears that the country
might split up.
Senussi was appointed chairperson of the region's newly-formed governing council.
leader Mustapha Abdel Jalil on Wednesday threatened to use force if
necessary to preserve national unity, but he later clarified in remarks
to pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera that he had not meant military
"What I meant was not military force but the power of the law," Abdel Jalil said.
Senussi said the regional council accepted "the
apology issued by Mustafa Abdel Jalil for the remarks he made in
Misrata", in apparent reference to the statements carried by the
He added that the national leadership must
engage with the call for federalism rather than dismissing it as a
treasonous act, one day after Abdel Jalil warned that the federalist
camp was infiltrated by remnants of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Protect the country
consider the National Transitional Council as the legitimate
representative of the Libyan people but we see the 1951 constitution as
the legitimate constitution for Libya," Senussi said.
Libya was a
federal union from 1951 to 1963 during the monarchy of Idris Senussi,
which split the country into three states - Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and
A spokesperson for the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, in
Benghazi, said the state-run company was staying out of the fray and
following the leadership of the Tripoli-based NTC.
And a military
spokesperson also told AFP that the national army was staying "out of
politics" and that its chief duty was to "protect the country and its
An estimated three-quarter of Libya's oil is concentrated in the proposed autonomous region.