The Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a public statement yesterday in which it called upon Libyans to show solidarity with the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), and categorically repudiated any move that could threaten the sovereign integrity of Libya, reported TAP.
On Tuesday, civic leaders and prominent tribal figures in eastern Libya declared their intent to establish the Interim Council of Cyrenaica – the name given to the eastern region of Libya during Italian colonial rule – under the presidency of Cheikh Ahmed Zoubeir Senussi. However, the semi-autonomous region would be effectively governed from the traditional seat of power in Tripoli.
The ministry’s statement follows accusations from the President of the NTC Mustafa Abdujalil alleging that some Arab countries have paid lip service to the separatist ambitions of the eastern province during a press conference in Tripoli on Wednesday.
Fethi Terbel, Libyan Minister of Youth and Sports and a prominent figure in the Libyan Revolution, praised Abdessalam’s declaration for preserving the unity of the country. “[Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' statement] comes from a true understanding of what the situation should be in Libya [...] Tunisia knows very well that the division of the country is not in the favor of Libya,” he stressed.
NTC administrative director Othman Ben Sasi also praised Tunisia’s commitment to the territorial unity of Libya. “Tunisia has supported Libya during the war against Gaddafi, and so it is logical that the Tunisian government would make a positive declaration for the unity of Libya,” he said.
Additionally, Ben Sasi stated his conviction that the timing of the declaration of autonomy in eastern Libya was inappropriate. “Libya is preparing for elections, and we should not be distracted by demands that cause friction among Libyans,” he warned.
However, Ben Sasi downplayed the possibility of a division of Libya, stating that advocates of confederalism are Libyan royalists that do not represent the majority of eastern Libyans.
A march, organized by a number of Libyan civil society organizations, is expected to be held today in Benghazi, denouncing the demand for the autonomy of eastern Libya.