Libyan leader vows fractured militias won't gain control of nation
By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 9:33 p.m.
TRIPOLI — Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zidan on Thursday called on militias to evacuate their buildings and headquarters and join government security forces, vowing that his government will take a hard-line stand against any armed group that tries to hijack control of any part of the nation.
Since the fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, armed groups, including rebels who battled Gadhafi's forces during eight-month civil war, have posed a challenge to transitional authorities struggling to transform them into a unified national military and police force.
During a police graduation ceremony in Tripoli, Zidan said the state “will not be lenient and we will not permit hijacking of Tripoli or Benghazi or any other city.”
On the one hand, the Libyan government heavily depends on security provided by commanders of powerful militias, such as Rafallah Sahati and Libya Shield. President Mohammed el-Megarif has labeled them as “legitimate” forces.
But other militias, such as Ansar al-Shariah, are labeled as outlaws. Ansar Al-Shariah is suspected of carrying out the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi on Sept. 11 that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
Militias, however, often act with impunity, running their own prison cells, making arrests and taking confessions in total absence of state control and oversight.
Libyans have been staging protests and sit-ins demanding that authorities label all militias illegal. The protesters want militia commanders and their fighters to integrate into the Libyan army as individuals. If they integrate into the army as groups, they say the fighters will maintain their loyalty to their militia commanders.
Libya's newly appointed Interior Minister Ashour Shwayel says the number of policemen, including those who are inactive, is 120,000 and thousands are to join in coming weeks.
Zidan's vow to stand against militia came as a video circulated on social networking sites purportedly showing a militia holding a group of Christian Egyptians. The video depicts a group of detainees with shaved heads and a bearded young man in a military jacket who says nearly 100 Coptic Egyptians are being held for allegedly spreading Christianity in Libya.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Panel to advise Pope Francis on sex abuse
- American teacher shot dead in Benghazi
- mexico Carjackers likely to die …
- Karzai says U.S. killed toddler
- Canada reportedly permitted NSA surveillance at G-20
- Syrian troops capture key town
- Dozens killed in blast in Libya
- General apologizes for Afghan airstrike
- Vatican’s centuries-old almoner role continues with modern twist
- U.S. can’t get China to yield on contentious air zone
- Police: Toronto mayor tried to buy crack tape