TRIPOLI: The leaders of a movement for self-rule in eastern Libya has unilaterally announced the formation of a shadow government, the latest challenge to the weakened central authority.
The announcement came several months after the movement, backed by some militias and local tribes, declared the eastern half of Libya to be an autonomous state, named Barqa, claiming broad self-rule powers and control over resources.
The central government in Tripoli had rejected the declaration. It had no immediate comments.
Advocates of the self-rule in the east, who long has complained about discrimination by the government, have been pushing for the reviving the system maintained under King Idris in 1951.
Libya then was divided into three states, with Cyrenaica — or Barqa, as it was called in Arabic — encompassing the eastern half of the country.
Opponents fear a declaration of autonomy could be the first step toward the outright division of the country, particularly with the turmoil that struck in the aftermath of the revolution.
Abd-Rabbo Al-Barassi, the head of the newly declared Barqa government, said the aim is to improve distribution of resources and undermine the hold of the centralized system that has discriminated against their region.
“The aim of the regional government is to share resources in a better fashion, and to end the centralized system adopted by the authorities in Tripoli,” Al-Barassi said. The new government is made up of 24 posts, which don’t include the defense or foreign affairs portfolios, he said. Al-Barassi said the region will encompass four provinces, including Benghazi, Tobruk, Ajdabiya and Jebel Akhdar.