Tripoli, 20 June:
Cyrenaica federalists are reported to have set up a road block on the coastal highway today, Tuesday, at Wadi . . .[restrict]Al-Ahmar between Sirte and Ben Jawad. They are said to be demanding the NTC and government agree to an equal number of seats in the National Conference for the country’s three historic regions: Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan, rather than a system based on demographics.
The road was apparently closed by the self-appointed Cyrenaica Transitional Council’s military arm, led by Hamed Al-Hassi. He said that his forces were closing just the road for the moment but if the NTC did not accept the federalists’ demands, they would move to the oil refinery at Ras Lanouf and facilities at Brega and Zueitina and stop the oil flowing altogether.
It is unclear how effective the block is. A passenger bus travelling from the Egyptian border to Tripoli is said to have been forced to turn back to Benghazi. However, the federalists said they were letting elderly people through, as well as anyone needing medical attention.
Libya Herald tried to contact the Interior ministry for comment, but phone calls were unanswered.
Last month, a number of federalists camped out at Wadi Al-Ahmar, the historic border between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, again in protest at the seat distribution. However, they left at the end of May following an announcement by Yousef Mangoush, the chief of staff, that the area was a protected military zone and anyone found carrying weapons there would be treated as hostile agents and arrested.
There was also talk of blockading oil facilties at the time. The chairman of the Cyrenaica Council’s political office, Abu Bakr Ebera, warned that protestors would try stopping oil sales. However, he also said that it probably would not happen because sales were subject to international agreements.