Civic leaders in the eastern city of Benghazi have announced plans for greater autonomy from Libya’s Transitional Council based in Tripoli.
Three thousand delegates voted in a relative of Libya’s former king to head a new council, set up to administer their own affairs. The declaration puts them on a confrontation course with the country’s interim leadership.
Speaking in Tripoli NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel-Jalil warned of a foreign plot to break up the country. He said: “As the National Transitional Council we are surprised at these voices calling for division in Libya. We call on all Libyans to gather round the internationally legitimate Council.”
The creation of the so-called Federal Union includes the province of Cyrenaica which is home to Libya’s biggest oil fields. But not everyone approves of the unilateral move.
People in Benghazi itself are split as several hundred demonstrators held a rally in protest in the city centre. Their banners read, ‘no to federalism; no to regionalism; yes to a unified Libya’.