Militia warning as Libyan PM forms Govt
18 November 2011, 10:11
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A commander of
Libyan former rebels has warned that his men could overthrow the
incoming government if it fails to meet their demands for
The credibility of the threat, made by Tripoli militia leader Abdullah
Naker in a Reuters interview, was hard to assess in a city where the
balance of forces, three months after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, is
obscure and fluid.
Critics dismissed it as posturing. But it highlighted the tensions, and
the high stakes, on Thursday as Abdurrahim El-Keib, the U.S.-trained
engineering professor nominated as interim prime minister by the
National Transitional Council, tries to agree a cabinet line-up by a
"We are still here on the ground and the final decision will be ours,"
said Naker, speaking late on Wednesday at his base in the headquarters
of a state-owned construction company as some of the thousands of armed
men he says he has at his disposal prepared for night-time security
patrols in the city.
Demanding Keib appoint ministers who would represent the young rebels
who ousted the old order, Naker, leader of the Tripoli Revolutionary
Council said his men would protest nationwide, peacefully "at first" if
they did not like the new cabinet, as they did against Gaddafi.
"If we find we have the same dictatorship, we will respond in the same
way," he said, showing off video of his men firing Grad missiles and
driving Soviet-build T-72 tanks during the war. "It will not be an armed
movement at first, but it might develop into that. There's a strong
possibility that it will."
NTC officials and fighters from other units played down the influence
wielded by Naker, an engineer from the mountain town of Zintan who vowed
to return to civilian life once democracy and security were assured.
But in a state with no police or army, forming a government to satisfy
the competing interests of tens of thousands of armed men is a fraught
On Thursday, Naker met a delegation of fighters from the eastern city of
Benghazi, seat of the revolt. They issued a joint declaration in
Tripoli demanding Keib meet their demands for a say in government and
over a new military leadership.