By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 26 December:
An Interior Ministry official announced yesterday that the Ministry is preparing a plan for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the dismantling of illegal battalions.
Interior Ministry spokesperson, Magdy Alirfy, was quoted by LANA as saying that preparations for this plan will proceed in coordination with the Chiefs of Staff and with the support of civil society institutions, tribal elders and the media.
The spokesperson also added that the Ministry would also in the meantime be requesting information on the battalions operating in the field of security “their general power or strength and the nature of their work and their headquarters.”
The posting on the Tripoli Security Directorate Facebook page went on to say that it is to be noted that “the spread of chaos is hampering the government’s efforts to implement its development programmes as a result of the unwillingness of foreign companies that were implementing different large projects estimated in the billions of dollars to return to the country unless security is established.’’
It will be interesting to see if the new government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is in reality able to achieve anything in this field. Zeidan’s predecessor, Al-Kib, struggled to fully rein-in the militias into the official Libyan National Army (LNA). Whilst many militias were willing to act upon the orders of the executive government, there was a reluctance by militiamen to dismantle their militias and join the LNA as individuals.
This is not the first time that the government has floated the idea of dismantling the militias. It would very much like to be able to implement this desire. However, until now it has not come up with any proposal that has been able to intice the militias into joining the LNA.
Equally, there is a worry that militiamen could dismantle their groups but at the same time not join the LNA and return to civilian life, leaving a security vacuum.