Libyan leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil said he can not use force against tribal leaders who are moving toward semi-autonomy for their oil-rich eastern region.
The step has raised fears of splitting Libya.
Mr Abdul-Jalil said his National Transitional Council does not have enough forces to confront the advocates of semi-autonomy.
He was speaking to the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera network,
He said he also does not have the firepower to deal with militias refusing to allow the army and police to take over vital border crossings and airports.
Mr Abdul-Jalil's remarks came a day after a gathering of major tribes declared the eastern section, known as Barqa, as semi-autonomous.
He blamed poor performance of his council for prompting the self-rule declaration.