May 10, 2011 1:37 am

Libyan rebels meet in Abu Dhabi

Representatives of 25 town councils from the south and west of Libya travelled to Abu Dhabi in an attempt to outflank the Libyan leadership and demonstrate solidarity with rebels based in Benghazi.

Spokesmen said about 60 people attended the meeting in the capital of the United Arab Emirates on Monday to undermine claims by Colonel Muammer Gaddafi that the rebel national council in Benghazi in the east of the country aimed to split Libya in two. They said Libyans from the west and south also support the uprising, which began in March.

Ali Zaidan, a former Libyan diplomat based in Germany, said several western and southern towns such as Misrata, Zawiya and the Jabal Nafusa, which have been the scene of heavy fighting, sent delegates. He said regime strongholds such as Tripoli, the capital, and Sirte, Col Gaddafi’s birthplace, also sent representatives, as did leading tribes such as the Touareg and Bani Walid.

“All these councils called each other and requested the [United Arab] Emirates to host this meeting,” Mr Zaidan said. “Most of the people came from inside either via Tunisia or via Niger and they will return back.”

The UAE is one of two Arab states, alongside Qatar, which have sent planes to help enforce a Nato-enforced no-fly zone over Libya. Mr Zaidan insisted that Monday’s meeting was not directly funded or initiated by the UAE.

The representatives will travel to Doha, the Qatari capital, on Tuesday and will fly to Benghazi ahead of Friday prayers. “Then we will have meeting in Court Square in Benghazi to show that the all Libyan regions are behind the council in Benghazi,” Mr Zaidan said.

The main courthouse in Benghazi has become a focal point for the anti-Gaddafi opposition in Libya.

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