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Libya: Thousands protest against push by eastern region for self-rule
BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) ' Thousands of Libyans are protesting a move by eastern tribal leaders and militia commanders to create a self-ruled region in the oil-rich eastern part of the country.
The Friday protests came days after representatives of major tribes and militia commanders in the east announced Barqa state as a semi-autonomous region.
They said their decision was not intended to divide the country, only to end years of discrimination against the east under ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
But many Libyans are worried that by creating these autonomous or semi-autonomous regions where local leaders hold sway it will eventually lead to the disintegration of the country.
In the eastern city of Benghazi, protesters denounced the move as a call for separation.