News

    Eastern Libyans Seek Federalism

    People attend a founding conference of the council of the Cyrenaica province in Benghazi, March 6, 2012.
    People attend a founding conference of the council of the Cyrenaica province in Benghazi, March 6, 2012.

    Libyans from the eastern region of Brega held a constituent assembly Tuesday in the oil town close to Benghazi with the avowed goal of establishing a loose form of federalism along the lines of the country's 1951 constitution.

    Political, civic and militia leaders in Brega applauded the declaration of an autonomous federal region in the east of the country. The area, known as Cyrenaica, had once been an autonomous Italian colony and later a federal district under Libya's monarchy.

    But the east's enthusiasm for federalism is not shared by Libya's interim authorities in the capital.

    Both Interim Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Keeb and National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil have expressed hostility recently towards having a federal system of government in Libya, saying it could lead to a break up of the country.

    The Brega conference chose Ahmad Zoubeir al Senoussi, Libya's longest held political prisoner during the rule of ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi, to lead the new federal region. Senoussi insisted that Libya would not break up, but that a federal system best protects the rights of all.

    "We declare our loyalty to our God and our Prophet and then to our country, and we testify that Libya is big enough for all its citizens and that the federal system is a guarantee for the rights of all in a greater Libya, which is indivisible," he said.

    Abou Bakr Bayara, a Libyan who spent many years exiled in the United States, also addressed the conference, challenging NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil's denunciation of federalism.

    He disagreed with claims that federalism means the dividing up the country. He said the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and Australia also have federal systems and that it represents no danger to their unity.

    The meeting in Brega was attended by numerous eastern militia, military and tribal leaders, all apparently eager for a greater say in how their local affairs are run. Libyan Army Colonel Saleh Salem Obeidi insisted that the country's military would support the will of its people.

    He said the armed forces is at the disposition of the people and will agree to whatever the people ask of it, unlike its position during the rule of Moammar Gadhafi.

    Omar Ashour, who teaches political science at the University of Exeter in Britain, argued that the tribal make-up and wealth of Libya's east, west and south are different and that the fall of long-time strongman Gadhafi is likely to exacerbate regional differences, long term.

    "You have a very strong tribal element in the east and the east in generally is richer, whereas you have the sources of power who are concentrated in the west in Tripoli and, I think, in the aftermath, it looks a bit like there's an Iraqi element there," explained Ashour.  "The strong dictatorship was keeping everything together by repression and now that dictator, whether it was Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gadhafi, are gone and you have all these historical issues. Whether the wealth disparities, whether the tribal factors, whether their regional identities starting to re-emerge again and resurface and manifest themselves."

    Ashour argued that most of the hundreds of militias that emerged in the battle to overthrow Gadhafi last year were formed on a “regional, rather than a tribal or ideological basis.”  The National Transitional Council does not control large swathes of the country, he said, raising the possibility of Libya's adopting a federal system following elections in July and the writing of a new constitution.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: mervin
    March 07, 2012 3:59 AM
    There is a silent hand on it,other countries are behind this move ( OIL.).Divide and rule.one Libya.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.