x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Tribal leaders declare a semi-autonomous region in eastern Libya

A gathering of tribal leaders, militias and politicans named a council to run the affairs of the newly created region, extending from the central coastal city of Sirte to the Egyptian border to the east.

BENGHAZI, LIBYA // Tribal leaders and militia commanders declared a semi-autonomous region in oil-rich eastern Libya today, a move opponents fear will be the first step toward outright dividing the country six months after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi.

Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), the interim central government based in the capital Tripoli, has repeatedly voiced its opposition to the creation of a partly autonomous eastern region, warning it could eventually lead to the break up of the North African nation.

Thousands of representatives of major tribal leaders, militia commanders and politicians made the declaration in a ceremony held in the eastern city of Benghazi.

They vowed to end decades of marginalisation under Qaddafi and named a council to run the affairs of the newly created region, extending from the central coastal city of Sirte to the Egyptian border in the east.

The gathering appointed Ahmed Al Zubair, Libya’s longest serving political prisoner under Qaddafi, as the leader of its governing council. Mr Al Zubair is also a member of the NTC.

Mr Al Zubair pledged to protect the rights of the region but also said his council recognizes NTC to run Libya’s international affairs.

The gathering also rejected an election law which allocated 60 seats for the eastern region out of a 200-member assembly set to be elected in June.

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