Benghazi, the de facto capital of the opposition, is where much of anti-Gaddafi actions are co-ordinated and executed.
|Defected army officers have been teaching civilians in Benghazi how to use anti-aircraft guns and other arms [Reuters]|
Opposition protesters in eastern Libya have formed a national council, pledging to help free areas of the country still under Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.
Hafiz Ghoga, spokesman for the new National Libyan Council that was launched in the city of Benghazi on Sunday, said the council was not an interim government.
“The main aim of the national council is to have a political face … for the revolution,” Ghoga told a news conference after the gathering to announce the council’s formation.
“We will help liberate other Libyan cities, in particular Tripoli through our national army, our armed forces, of which
part have announced their support for the people,” Ghoga said.
On Saturday, former justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil – who resigned from Gaddafi’s cabinet on Monday in protest at the killing of protesters – told Al Jazeera he had led the formation of a body which would lead the country for three months to prepare for elections.
Both Libya’s ambassador to the US and its deputy UN ambassador said they supported the initiative.
Ex-minister taking lead
Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Benghazi, said there was an understanding that the uprisings in different cities that have fallen into the hands of the opposition need to be concentrated under one umbrella to counter the regime.
“The ex-justice minister is taking the lead in this movement,” she said.
“They have five representatives of each city or town and each time a new one falls, they immediately establish contact to have that city or town join this national council.
“There is a feeling here in the east that if they stay separated from the rest of the country, then it will soon look like a secessionist movement rather than an uprising.”
Ghoga said the newly formed council was not contacting foreign governments and did not want them to intervene.
His comments came after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington was “reaching out” to opposition groups in the east.and was prepared to offer “any kind of assistance” to Libyans seeking to overthrow the regime.
“We are reaching out to many different Libyans in the east as the revolution moves westward there as well,” she said.
In places such as Benghazi that have ejected Gaddafi’s loyalists, citizens have set up committees to act as a local authority and run services.
Gaddafi and his supporters still control Tripoli, but their grip beyond the capital has been shrinking, with protesters taking over Zawiyah and Misurata in the western part of the country.