Libyan Authorities Dissolve All Militias and Armed Groups
Sep 23 2012 12:13PM GMT
The Libyan authorities said late Saturday they had decided to dissolve all militias and armed groups that do not come under State authority, AFP reported.
The move, a day after Benghazi residents rebelled against the militias in violence that killed at least 11 people and wounded over 70, was announced by Mohammed al-Megaryef, head of the national assembly, in the eastern city.
The authorities also decided to put in place an "operations room" in Benghazi bringing together the army, forces of the interior ministry and defense ministry brigades comprising former rebels.
They called on the army to impose its authority by putting its own officers at the head of brigades born out of the 2011 revolt, which escalated into civil war and toppled the regime of Muammar Qaddafi.
On Friday, tens of thousands of Libyans demonstrated against militias. The protest came ten days after an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi left four Americans, including ambassador Chris Stevens, dead on the anniversary of 9/11.
The measures were the outcome of meetings including de facto Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur, army chief Yussef al-Mangush, intelligence services head Salem al-Hassi as well as national assembly and local council members.
Meanwhile, the army issued an ultimatum ordering militias and armed groups to evacuate military compounds, state property and properties of members of the former regime, the official LANA news agency reported.
It ordered "all individuals and armed groups occupying military barracks, public buildings or property belonging to members of the former regime or (Qaddafi’s children) to evacuate these sites within 48 hours."
AFP reported that hundreds of former rebels have taken over strategic, state-owned military and civilian facilities as well as the properties of supporters and leaders of the former regime in the wake of its fall.
The protesters on Friday first attacked a group based in a security building in central Benghazi before turning their wrath on the headquarters of Ansar al-Sharia, a radical Salafist militia and the main paramilitary group in the city.
Ansar al-Sharia has been accused of -- but denied -- involvement in the murder of the four Americans in the U.S. consulate.
The militiamen took flight as hundreds of protesters stormed and then set their compound ablaze. They also evicted them from Al-Jalaa hospital where they were replaced by military police.
National assembly chief Megaryef initially welcomed the Benghazi protest but later urged the demonstrators to withdraw from the bases of loyal brigades, AFP reported.
Late last week the White House, after insisting for eight days that the deadly attack on the consulate in Benghazi was a "spontaneous" act, conceded that it was "self evident" that it was an act of terror. The 9/11 date was seen as not coincidental.
As the search continues for those directly involved in the attack on the embassy in Benghazi, it was revealed last week that a former inmate of the Gunatanamo Bay detention facility may have been the leader of the attack.
A video which surfaced last week and which some news outlets claimed had showed Libyan men trying to save Ambassador Stevens as his body is recovered from the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, turned out to show the opposite.
In fact, an alternative translation provided to Infowars by a native Arabic speaker, showed that the men were celebrating the fact that Stevens is dead.