5 000 militia men join new Libyan army
16 February 2012, 16:00
Libya - About 5 000 rebels have joined Libya's nascent national army
but more of the militia that have dominated the country since the
revolution must sign up if the armed forces are to reassert their
authority, the new chief of staff said.
The militia, which fought
to unseat former leader Muammar Gaddafi, are now the biggest threat to
the stability of Libya, clashing regularly with each other in violent
turf wars and undermining the authority of the new rulers.
interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), wants to
amalgamate the militia into the police force and army. NTC chief Mustafa
Abdel Jalil warned last month that if they did not comply, the country
risks being dragged into a civil war.
Drawn from dozens of
different towns and ideological camps, militia are reluctant to lay down
arms they believe will help them secure their due share of political
power in the new Libya.
The NTC named a chief of staff, Yousef
al-Manqoush, last month and set up a committee to register former
fighters and help them to either join the army or police forces or offer
them the financial means to start new lives as civilians.
than 100 000 rebels from all over Libya have registered with the
combatants' committee that deals with the rebels on an individual level
and not as groups," Mustafa al-Saqizly, the head of the committee, told a
news conference late on Tuesday.
Of those, Manqoush said 5,000
rebels joined the army in an official ceremony on Tuesday and would
begin their training in March. About 400 had completed training to join
It is not clear how many fighters there are in Libya's many militia units, but they could number in the hundreds of thousands.
that have turned up to seek jobs in the new police force or army appear
to be from smaller militias that did not have the resources to make a
bid for power, rather than the heavily armed and well-organised militia
that are the biggest headache for the NTC.
commands a 1 200-strong force drawn mainly from Zintan, which now
controls Tripoli airport. Speaking to reporters at the airport on
Wednesday evening, Akhdar said the NTC had failed to provide jobs and
security and that the rebels were so far working without pay to secure
the country, making it difficult for the militia to give up their guns.
there was a functioning police force of at least 10 000 men, they would
consider giving up their own weapons, Akhdar said, complaining about a
recent incident in which members of his militia had been detained by a
rival group in Benghazi in apparent response for a previous clash.
altercations have become a daily occurrence in Libya, while the poor
state of the armed forces under Gaddafi has also posed challenges for
Gaddafi distrusted the military and effectively
dismantled the armed forces in the 1990s, leaving them with few arms or
personnel, placing real power in the hands of his own militias which
moved swiftly to crush protests against him in February. A large number
of military officers defected in the early days of the uprising and
barracks were overrun by rebels.
Manqoush said the new Libyan
army also needed graduates to join a new 8-10 month officer training
scheme aimed at creating a smaller professional army to replace the
sprawling but disorganised force of old.
"The army is an institution that cannot be built in a matter of days. We need time," Manqoush said.
more we support the national army, and people rally around it and offer
it the necessary support and cooperation the more we reduce the need
for armed groups ... We must cooperate with the army to help them regain
the military barracks and equipment."
Get the latest news by following us on Twitter