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Libya: Cyrenaica Wants Autonomy, Benghazi Heading Towards Federalism


“They been pre-emptive, exploiting the weak moment of the central government that cannot control the country, dusting off old and new claims, and undertaking a process that started some time ago,” this, in summary, is the opinion over the declaration of independence by Cyrenaica proffered to MISNA by Silvia Colombo, a Libya researcher for the Institute of International Affairs (IAI) in Rome.

“The summit of Benghazi yesterday, which brought together about 2000 tribal leaders and military commanders, is to be taken seriously – says Colombo – it is part of a political course that should be interpreted as part of the historical opposition between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, which will have repercussions on the transition process and the next election.”

According to Ms. Colombo, the militia of Cyrenaica are feeling increasingly marginalized by the transition process to the benefit of Tripoli, which has helped to push those who really control the territory to take and perhaps anticipate decisions that were already being rumored. “How this push for greater autonomy will be carried out – she adds – at this point becomes a political matter and it shall be the result of the balance and forces at play. Certainly, today, the National Transitional Council (CNT) does not have the strength to impose itself despite knowing that the Cyrenaica has the richest oil deposits, the control of which, affects the national economy. ”

Tribal leaders met in Benghazi to dispute the electoral law which, in their view, limits the Eastern representative of the country. They have also assured Libya’s unity as a nation based on a Federal system, reaffirming adherence to the positions of the CNT in the international arena and they have appointed Al Zubair Ahmed Al Senoussi, niece of King Idris, then member of the royal family deposed by Muammar Gaddafi, to lead a government council.

“My cousin has not spoken about breaking the unity of Libya; rather he has proposed a Federal model to govern it better,” says to MISNA Prince Idris Al Senoussi. “In Libya today there is a lack security and stability – adds the representative of the royal family – federalism may be a response to the need to restart the economy and to ensure peace.”

Criticisms have been voiced by the president instead of the CNT, Mustafa Abduljalil, who yesterday even accused some Arab countries of fomenting and adding financial pressures for autonomy in eastern Libya.

“Abduljalil expressed his opinion and fortunately in the post-Qadhafi Libya everyone can express themselves freely,” concluded Prince Idris, but “my cousin Ahmed has not spoken to create another state, he has proposed a model that best meets the needs of Libya and did so also because of the great respect he has for the past 31 years in prison during Gaddafi’s regime ”

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MISNA, or the Missionary International Service News Agency, provides daily news ‘from, about and for’ the 'world’s Souths', not just in the geographical sense, since December 1997.

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