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Thousands Rally Against Autonomy For Eastern Libya

Thousands of people in Libya's two biggest cities have protested moves by groups in the country's east to declare autonomy from central rule.

A crowd of 5,000 filled a square in the capital, Tripoli, to voice their opposition after clerics criticized the plan at Friday Prayers.

Another 4,000 gathered in Benghazi, where civic and tribal leaders in Benghazi this week declared the creation of a so-called provincial council to run the affairs of Cyrenaica, the historic province that runs from the border with Egypt in the east to halfway across Libya's Mediterranean coast.

The territory covers much of Libya's oil-producing region.

Supporters of the autonomy gesture insisted the move was a necessary step to end decades of the region's marginalization under ousted leader Muammar Qaddafi.

With Reuters and AP reporting

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