By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 2 June:
There were pro-Cyrenaica rallies in Ajdabiya, Al-Bayda and other eastern towns on Friday against the distribution of . . .[restrict]seats allocated for the National Conference to be elected this month. Protestors were objecting to the fact that a total of 100 seats were allocated to constituencies that make up the historic region of Tripolitania, 60 for Cyrenaica and 40 for Fezzan. They want parity of seats between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.
The demand is firmly rejected by the NTC, the government and High National Election Commission. The present distribution is based on the size of population in the 13 constituencies.
The demonstrations took place on the 63rd anniversary of the 1 June 1949 declaration of independence of the Emirate of Cyrenaica by the then Emir Sayid Muhammad Idris Senussi. (It was limited independence; much of the administration was still carried out by the British. Moreover, Idris, who became king of a united Libya in 1951, in fact had already declared Cyrenaica’s independence on 1 March 1949.)
The anniversary event in Ajdabiya was attended by Ahmed Zubair Senussi, a cousin of the late king and leader of the self-proclaimed Cyrenaica Transitional Council (CTC) which wants a federal Libya. Thanking people for coming, he said: “Libya cannot be divided, Libya must remain united based on justice not on injustice. Our sons have sacrificed their lives for that and we will work on establishing a fair federal state.”
Abdul Jawwad Al-Badin, commander of CTC’s own militia, the Omar Mukhtar Battalion, said that Cyrenaica which had been the first spark for the revolution was ready to start another one if justice and equality were not implemented.
“We will defend Libya and we will make it a fair, federal state,” he said. “Just as we fought Qaddafi, we will fight anyone who attempts to attack the Libyans’ dignity. We will stand together more than ever before. Cyrenaica will remain as it was previously known, with one hope and one dream and will continue to fight for people who are weak and with a voice.”
He claimed that 76 Arab and foreign countries had adopted federalism and were more developed than Libya.
Referring to the recent protests at Al-Wadi Al-Ahmar by federalists, one of Ajdabiya’s local elders said that “those who are protesting at Al-Wadi Al-Ahmar are our sons and they are the ones who fought for Libya’s liberation, they are now calling for their demands and we will support them until the number of seats are made equal.”
Despite the evident respect for King Idris at the protests and among federalists, the king abolished it in 1963 on the basis that it no longer served Libya’s interests. [/restrict]