Libya’s oil-rich eastern state of Barqa unilaterally declared independence Thursday and appointed a new government.

The central government in Tripoli has rejected talk of independence for Barqa.

Self-rule advocates in the eastern state say the central government doesn’t share the region’s resources fairly.

Libya was formerly divided into three autonomous states in a system created by King Idris in 1951. Under the old system, Barqa was then known as Cyrenaica.

Militants in the eastern region disrupted crude oil production and exports earlier this year by seizing oil exporting terminals. Libya’s crude production sank from 1.4 million barrels a day to around 600,000, barrels.

Last month, the so-called Cyrenaican Defense Force, said it had a regional army of 17,000 soldiers, made up of  both militias and military units “nominally under the control of the Libyan government as well as the military hardware in their possession,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.

“The aim of the regional government is to share resources in a better fashion, and to end the centralised system adopted by the authorities in Tripoli,” according to Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, the head of the newly declared Barqa government.

“We only want Barqa’s share according to the 1951 constitution,” he said.


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