Last updated: 5 March, 2012

Libya PM to address nation on federalism

Libya’s interim Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib on Monday urged his nation’s “silent majority” to protect the state against “pseudo-revolutionaries.”

“There must be solidarity between the government and the people,” Kib said in remarks broadcast by official media late Monday.

“It is up to the silent majority to protect the institutions of the state, to fight chaos, to say no to those who usurp state property and territory, to reject non-state institutions,” he said.

Kib said he did not want “new blood to be spilled” in Libya but that it was up to the street to “fight against the chaos” taking place in the country.

Rights groups warn that out of control militias pose the greatest challenge to stability in the north African nation which is seeking to build state institutions from scratch after decades of dictatorship under Moamer Kadhafi.

Many sensitive sites, including the Tripoli airport and official buildings, remain under the control of so-called revolutionary brigades, who battled former regime forces until Kadhafi was captured and killed in October.

Kib criticised the registration of more than 140,000 people with the committee of veteran affairs, saying the number was an exaggeration, and calling on “true revolutionaries” to help build state institutions.

He also announced that the government is in the process of establishing offices in the eastern city of Benghazi and Sabha to the south which, he said, will help faciliate the administrative transactions of citizens.

During the programme “Meet the Minister,” Kib flatly rejected calls to fashion Libya into a federation.

“We do not need federalism because we are heading towards decentralisation and we don’t want to go back 50 years,” he said without entering into details.

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.

Tribal and political leaders in the oil-rich east have drawn up plans to declare Cyrenaica — or Berqa in Arabic — an autonomous region linked to the rest of the country by a federal union.

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.

Libyan leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said on Monday that calls for the implementation of a federal system, which would constitute a throw back to the 1951-1963 monarchic era, were likely to meet a cool reception.

“Libyans fought for a united Libya so these clamours will be of no consequence,” he said.