News / Africa

Federalist Support Grows in Eastern Libya

In this February 2011 photo, a man works at an oil refinery in eastern Libya, where support for federalism is growing.
In this February 2011 photo, a man works at an oil refinery in eastern Libya, where support for federalism is growing.
Support for federalism is growing in eastern Libya, rattling the country’s new leaders and infuriating western Libyans, who fear federalists won't be satisfied with semi-autonomy, and will eventually demand full independence.

Federalists say the central government in Tripoli should only control defense, central banking and foreign policy, and that oil revenue, which is generated from oil fields concentrated in the east, should be shared.

The slow progress of reform, the failure of national politicians to put aside bickering, and a perception of being marginalized, are all fueling resentment in the east.

“There is a surge in the number of people who really want to go towards federalism," says federalist advocate Mohamed Buisier, son of a former Libyan foreign minister. "It is not because they don’t understand what federalism, is but because they feel it is a way out of being marginalized.”

The federalists feel Gadhafi neglected the eastern part of Libya, known as Cyrenaica, and complain post-Gadhafi leaders are continuing to marginalize the east.

They would also welcome semi-autonomy for the two other provinces of Libya, Fezzan in the southwest and Tripolitania in the west. That would be revive the federal system observed for most of the reign of King Idris, who ruled from 1951, after decolonization, until Gadhafi overthrew him in 1969.

Buisier believes a majority of people in Cyrenaica and Fezzan now support federalism.

“If there were a referendum today - I don’t have a scientific way to confirm that - but my feeling is that there would be a majority in Cyrenaica, and maybe also in Fezzan, a big portion, I don’t know if it is a majority or not - that would support a federal system,” he says.

Federalist demands have met strong resistance in Tripoli, as well as from powerful militia leaders in Misrata and Zintan, key towns in the revolution.

Even some politicians who harbor sympathy for federalist sentiment say the time is not right.

“In principle, I don’t reject federalism," says Abd Al-Wahhab Muhammad Qaid, chairman of the national security committee in the General National Congress, Libya’s parliament. "But now, during this time, it is not a high time or a suitable time to talk about federalism.”

Some frustrated federalists have already turned to violence. During last July’s national elections, federalists downed a helicopter, killing an election worker, and torched warehouses containing ballot papers in a bid to halt the voting.

Islamist revolutionary militias in Benghazi are being won over by the federalist argument. That includes Ansar al-Sharia, the militia blamed for the assault last September on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which led to the death of the American ambassador, Christopher Stevens.

Could federalist leaders use violence to force through federalism? Buisier thinks not, but remains worried.

“No, no, no. I know their first concern is the sovereignty and unity of Libya," he says. "And federalism is called for as an internal way of ruling the country. But, would they be used by someone else? Could be.”

Alarmed Libyan leaders are doing everything they can to placate eastern federalists, short of agreeing to semi-autonomy for Cyrenaica.

You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine Off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Fezzani from: Fezzan
March 05, 2013 11:43 AM
Yes federalism was also declared in sebha, the national congress has failed, we want regional government elected by the people. NOT corrupt tripoli bureaucrats.


by: Mahmoud Albargathi from: Cyrenaica
February 28, 2013 5:21 AM
Strange that calls for the province of Cyrenaica and Fezzan region federalism and fighting against the Tripoli region, not only that but claimed they split.And entrenched in the minds of ordinary people associated with the term word federal division.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid