AFP – Libya’s Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib is due to address the nation Monday on the issue of decentralisation, his office said, as aspirations for federalism gained momentum in the east of the country.
His address to the war-battered country comes after the interim government held an emergency session on Sunday to discuss a draft bill proposing the “principle of decentralisation” in the country.
“The law promotes the strengthening principle of decentralisation,” a government statement issued late Sunday said in reference to the gathering of senior government officials which was held in Tripoli.
Libyan leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told AFP on Monday that the project was being reviewed by more than 50 local councils across the north African nation.
“These councils will be given budgets and administrative competences to get rid of central rule, which caused Libyans so much suffering in the past,” he said.
Kib is expected to discuss the issue of decentralisation in a television broadcast, his office said in a statement.
The move comes after statements by tribal and political leaders in the oil-rich east suggesting they could declare the region of Cyrenaica as a federal state at a meeting expected to be held Tuesday in Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising that overthrew dictator Moamer Kadhafi last year.
A leaked version of the movement’s draft declaration received by AFP proposes an autonomous region of Cyrenaica — or Berqa in Arabic — linked to the rest of the country by a federal union.
Another purpose of the meeting is to set a date for a national referendum on the 1951 constitution, which divided Libya into three administrative regions: Cyrenaica, Tripolitana, and Fezzan. The federal system was abolished in 1963.
The region of Cyrenaica stretches from Libya’s borders with Egypt in the east to the desert city of Sirte, where Kadhafi was captured and killed on October 20.
“There is a general push in the province of Cyrenaica to return to the federal system,” said political analyst, Anis Bayira, who supports the movement.
Benghazi was the first city to revolt against Kadhafi’s 42-year-old rule sweeping eastern cities along with it, in a conflict that pitted civilians turned rebel fighters against regime loyalists mobilised from the west.
The now ruling National Transitional Council, which moved its headquarters from Benghazi to Tripoli and incorporated figures from the west, is struggling to exert its authority across Libya.
Many militias comprising of former anti-Kadhafi fighters have ignored calls to come under the government’s supervision.
Abdel Jalil said calls for the implementation of a federal system, which would constitute a throw back to the 1951-1963 monarchic era, did not represent a major source of concern to his government.
“Libyans fought for a united Libya so these clamours will be of no consequence.”