Magharebia (Washington DC)

Libya: Cyrenaica Leader Grants First Interview

Tripoli — Cyrenaica tribal leaders met this month in Tobruk to elect a Council of Elders. Abdel Jawad al-Badeen, the man named as the leader of the new body, led the Malik Brigade during the revolution.

Speaking with Magharebia for his first interview since taking the position, al-Badeen defends the federalism initiative and calls on fellow Libyans to help the country achieve stability.

Magharebia: What are the goals of the council?

Abdel Jawad Al-Badeen: The policies and goals will be set by members, but no meetings have been held yet. A proposal for such policies, including a senate and a house of representatives, will be presented and members will approve it.

We've reviewed Libya's constitution, which was amended in 1963 and 1964, and even after the coup in 1969. We definitely need a Council of Elders now to consolidate political stability, given that the existing projects don't have a popular base...

Magharebia: Will Cyrenaica soon hold a vote on federalism?

Al-Badeen: We will hold a referendum. That structure is not run by a law; rather, it is a social norm, and when there is neither law, state of law nor political consensus, the social components have a national responsibility, and people have to shoulder responsibility and move towards stability.

If people reject federalism, they will have to bear their responsibility in this regard. We're getting closer now, and they shouldn't say afterwards that we've wasted the chance. Libyans have to understand that they have equal responsibility.

Magharebia: What do you say to those who oppose a federalised Libya?

Al-Badeen: We don't have a consensus or even ambitions to be a separate entity from Libya. We're with people's choices, and they have the right to demand that right.

There is a massive current on the street in eastern Libya calling for federalism, contrary to what's being said. We don't want to lead the scene or stay once federalism has been realised; we want to be a part of the Libyan state... .

Magharebia: What about the distribution of Libya's oil wealth?

Al-Badeen: I have a proposal about wealth that was welcomed by some people and even federalists. It's the Norwegian model. Norway exports more than 2 million barrels per day, more than Libya, and yet it doesn't have an oil ministry. It has an authority that is run scientifically based on the size of population, growth rate, created and required projects, etc. In this model, the fate of each drop of oil and where it is spent is known.

Libyans should be a model of sovereign wealth. They should also liberate Libyan identity and differentiate between who is Libyan and who is not.

They should specify the projects that must prevail in all areas through an integrated national programme that realises state sovereignty, provided it is equal...

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