Libyans gather to decide on Gaddafi's oil plan

Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:33pm GMT

By Salah Sarrar

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Libyans gathered on Wednesday to discuss the proposal by their leader Muammar Gaddafi to disband the government and allow the country's oil wealth to flow straight to the people.

"Libyans, this is your historic opportunity to take over your oil wealth, power and full freedom. Why do you want to let the chance slip away from you?" state news agency Jana quoted Gaddafi as saying before the five-day gatherings.

State radio and television stations repeated Gaddafi's message as Libyans streamed into public places in villages and cities for meetings of Libya's Basic People Congresses (LBPC).

Calls by Gaddafi for Libyans to free themselves from political corruption and share out oil wealth without government meddling reverberated around the gatherings, Jana said.

The LBPCs are the backbone of Libya's Jamahiriya regime as they are effectively the country's top executive and legislative bodies. They represent people at district and village levels, and vote on laws and government policy.

In practice, however, Gaddafi decides on key policies, particularly oil.

The General People Congress, the umbrella body, is due to collect the LBPC decisions at the end of the debates and announce whether a majority backs Gaddafi's proposal, a foregone conclusion as his supporters dominate all levels of power.

A reporter who listened to debates at gatherings in Tripoli said people appeared to support Gaddafi's proposal but seemed divided over how to implement the scheme.   Continued...

<p>Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attends a wreath-laying ceremony in Victory Square in central Minsk, Belarus, November 3, 2008. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko</p>
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