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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora