By George Grant.
Tripoli, 27 September:
Benghazi’s Congressmen and women have called on the government to go further in establishing full control over . . .[restrict]the city by disbanding all militias and incorporating their members into the security services as individuals.
Last week, it was announced that officers from the National Army would be placed in command of all militias still operational in Benghazi, including the two largest, the 17 February brigade and the Libya Shield brigade.
It was also decided that at least three others, including the Islamist Ansar Al-Sharia brigade, were to be disbanded completely following a wave of popular protest demanding an end to militia rule in the city.
“Putting officers in charge of the brigades is a first step”, Congressman Suleiman Zubi told the Libya Herald today. “As a next step, the Army must coordinate the breaking-up of these groups altogether”.
Yesterday, the Benghazi Congress members issued a statement welcoming the progress that had already been made to establish control over the militias, whilst emphasising their appreciation for the role they played in liberating Libya last year.
The group said, however, that the era of the revolutionary brigades in Benghazi must now come to an end.
“[We] would like to confirm… the necessity of reactivating the role of the army and the police, and the forbidding of any military grouping to exist outside the framework of the law”, the group said in a statement yesterday.
“[We emphasise] the necessity of all revolutionaries to join the organs of the state without any delay, and the disbanding of any groupings that refuse to do so”.
Last Friday witnessed an unprecedented rally in Benghazi of between 30,000 and 40,000 people demanding an end to militia rule in the city.
Several brigades were subsequently driven out of their bases by protesters resulting in clashes which left at least 11 people dead.
To date, the Government and the National Army have agreed a six-point plan to establish full control over the city, including the establishment of a unified operations room in Benghazi for the enrolment of all militias under the authority of the Ministry of Defence.
Citizens of Benghazi have also been forbidden from carrying weapons in public places and no checkpoints can be set up that are not officially mandated.
Both the Benghazi Congress members and the government have called for restraint in the city, and have requested citizens to afford them time to fully implement the changes.
Further demonstrations, including potential civil disobedience, have been planned for this Friday, and the authorities are asking Benghazi residents to cancel such plans for fear they could stoke further unrest in city. [/restrict]