Pro-autonomy movements arise in Libya's Cyrenaica region

Political and tribal leaders urged Libya to be a federal state again, as it used to be until 1963 · A former political prisoner has been elected as the leader of the pro-autonomy movement · Most of Libya's oil areas and refineries are in Cyrenaica, and it was in this region's largest city, Benghazi, where the rebellion against Colonel Gaddafi first succeeded.

Tribal, political and military leaders from eastern Libya presented the Congress of the People of Cyrenaica last Tuesday, which aims for the conversion of Libya to a federal state. As the BBC stated in their website, the Congress has elected Ahmed al-Zubair as its leader. Al-Zubair is a relative of former Libyan king Idris, ousted by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 1969, and has been a political prisoner during Gaddafi's regime.

Cyrenaican pro-autonomists support the reinstatement of a federal state, which is how Libya was organised during Idris mandate, between 1951 and 1963. Back then, Cyrenaica was one of the three states that made up the Libyan federation, the other two being Tripolitania -the coastal area around the Libyan capital, Tripoli- and Fezzan -a landlocked territory which is partly populated by the Tuareg-.

On the other hand, the Cyrenaican have established their own army: the Barqa Supreme Military Council, according to RT news site, which also informs that a group of citizens from the region have opposed the declaration of autonomy.

Cyrenaica is the Libyan region where the uprising against Gaddafi first clearly succeeded. A considerable amount of Libya's oil reserves are found in inner Cyrenaica, whereas it's coastline is dotted with refineries and oil depots, in a greater extent than any other region in the country.

(Map: the territories of federal Libya / Image: Via de Gaspari)