By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 10 November 2013:
Tripoli’s former police chief, who once had to go out and buy bullets for his force’s weapons – on the black market – has blasted “the weak government “ and blamed slow official decision-making for the capital’s current security vacuum.
Colonel Mahmoud Sharif resigned last month from his post in protest at the lack of support from the Interior Ministry. Although a new police chief has been nominated, the ministry has not yet accepted Sharif’s resignation.
“I sent a letter to all concerned officials explaining the situation and asking for immediate support,”Sharif told the Libya Herald. “I made it clear that I could not work without authority and support from the government. My force was unable to do anything for the people. There was no backing from the Prime Minister nor the Interior Minister.”
He said: “Each time I had meetings with officials from Ministry and some deputy ministers I would feel we are speaking a totally different language. If somebody has absolutely no idea or expertise in security, how can he bring change to the system? “
Sharif insisted that the whole system needs immediate reforms to bring police forces throughout the country back into action.
“There is no proper structure of our police. It has been more than a year and nobody has had a vision or idea to make the required changes.”
Sharif questioned the seriousness of the interior ministry officials, because he maintained that he was never contacted by any official after he formally sent his resignation.
“They never called me about the resignation. Although I was clear that I would not work without the proper legislation and support. But they didn’t even call me to discuss it. It’s been over a month now and there has been no response from the ministry.”
The lack of a central database and proper procedures mean that criminals are roaming free, said Sharif.
“There is no data sharing infrastructure. This means if somebody is wanted by Tripoli police he can be roaming free in Benghazi without their knowledge. There used to be 15 directorates covering all Libya . Now we have 45 and all the police chiefs report directly to the minister. There is no regional head. It cannot work like this.
“The whole system needs to be changed to have safe streets but it needs people that can take decisions,”.