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Tribal leaders declare eastern Libyan city of Benghazi 'a semi-autonomous' region

March 7, 2012 - Tripoli

The eastern city of Benghazi in Libya has been declared a semi-autonomous region by tribal leaders backed by armed militia, in a move that could break up the country.

A conference in Benghazi declared that the region, historically known as Cyrenaica, would have its own capital, parliament and police force.

This follows reports of frustration that the National Transitional Council (NTC) was not sharing power fairly. Six months after the death of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and the NTC has failed to establish control over the country and particularly over capital Tripoli.

Some militia continues to retain their weapons and run mini-fiefdoms. The newly announced eastern state will henceforth be known as Barqua.

It would run from the coast all the way down to Chad in the South, and from Egypt right across to the city of Sirte, about halfway across Libya.

The NTC has rejected the new state's formation.

"This is very dangerous, a blatant call for fragmentation. We reject it in its entirety," quoted NTC leader Fathi Baja, as saying.


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