Mar 08 2012
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Libya rejects federalism
Libya's interim government on Wednesday (March 7th) reacted forcefully to Cyrenaica's declaration of autonomy. The National Transitional Council (NTC) vowed to uphold the country's unity and described the Tuesday declaration as "authoritarian and arbitrary".
"We are not prepared to divide Libya," NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in a televised speech. He blamed "remnants of Kadhafi's regime" and warned that the government is ready to "deter them, even with force".
"The government rejects any attempts to undermine the unity of our nation out of honour for martyrs' blood and out of a desire not to squander what our fathers and grandfathers have struggled to achieve," First Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur said in a statement on Tuesday, hours after the oil-rich eastern region declared autonomy.
"A federal system is the choice of the region" of Cyrenaica, which stretches from the central coastal city of Sirte to the Egyptian border in the east, the leaders said in a joint statement.
"The interim government is working on consolidating decentralisation and providing services to all citizens all over Libya through the interim local councils," he said.
Libya should build "a bright future" and set aside "religious, ethnic, linguistic or provincial differences", he added. The government called on all citizens "to be patient and start building and overcoming all obstacles impeding progress and renaissance until a constitution has been drafted and approved by all the people, and until the form of the state which the people agree on has been determined".
"No group or faction has the right to impose their separatist views on other Libyans beyond the constitution," he said. "Let us move united on the road of building and establishing the modern state, with all due prudence and patriotism that would bring us unity, solidarity and conformity."
The deputy premier told Magharebia that Libyan people are passing through a phase of freedom and democracy and learning the meaning of these notions.
"Decentralisation means that every citizen will get (government) services no matter where he is, be it a small town or a large city," Abu Shagur said. "Federalism means the splitting of the country into states and for each state to have its own government."
"Local councils are the entities that provide services, and the government's work would be through them, but this will certainly need time," he added. "Full services haven't yet reached Libya, and the government can't provide them right now."
He urged people to show patience as "building the police and security apparatuses will require more than three months, and the police now have a significant presence".
"Cyrenaica did not secede, and this is a small group," he concluded. "Libya hasn't been separated; it is still united."
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