Tripoli, 30 May:
A group of protestors who support federalism and have been camped out in the Wadi Al-Ahmar area 100 kilometres . . .[restrict]east of Sirte are reported to have left following an announcement by the chief of staff of the Libyan armed forces, Yousef Mangoush, that the area was now a protected military zone. He said that anyone found to be carrying weapons there would be treated as hostile agents.
The federalists had gathered to protest against a claimed decision by the NTC to transfer the area, within historic Cyrenaica, into Misrata’s military zone and therefore into what was historically Tripolitania. They also said they were protesting about the allocation of seats in next month’s elections. They had demanded that that the number of seats should not be based on population but on equality between the country’s three historic regions.
The government and NTC had denied that there were any plans to transfer Wadi Al-Ahmar.
Against the background of the protests, the Cyrenaica lobby had also threatened to disrupt oil supplies. The chairman of Cyrenaica Transitional Council’s political office, Abu Bakr Ebera, warned that the protestors might take action against the NTC and the government, including stopping oil sales. However, he then effectively nullified the threat saying that they did not really want to do so because sales were subject to international agreements.
The protestors had earlier given a deadline to the NTC to change the allocation of seats in the National Conference, but it passed without action. [/restrict]