By Nihal Zaroug.
Tripoli, . . .[restrict]12 September:
An initiative to collect weapons is being organised by the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs and various civil society organizations. It is sponsored by Libya Alhurra TV.
A festival-like event is to take place on Sunday, 16 September, during which, it is hoped, a large number of arms, including medium to heavy weapons, will be handed in. The venues will be Martyrs Square in Tripoli and Freedom Square in Benghazi. Collected weapons will be handed over to the Special Forces in Benghazi and in Tripoli to a sub-committee of the armed forces.
This is not the first time that action against guns has been taken in the eastern city of Benghazi. In April, a large demonstration in the city pleaded for militias and young men to lay their weapons down and in late July, Benghazi residents voluntarily surrendered weapons following an appeal from security forces. However, it was reported that compensation by the Libyan Armed Forces was offered.
According to flyers being circulated, there will be entertainment and prize giveaways at the event with the grand prize being a car.
The initiative is planned on a national scale but will start in Libya’s capital and second largest city first, and hopes to help the country move past its revolution phase into a civic society.
The recently elected General National Congress has not fully addressed the issue of a gun amnesty although several members made disarmament a key matter on their election platforms.
Candidates for the position of prime minister have discussed the subject of disarmament. However, the only candidate to have stated a specific policy on the issue is Mustafa Abushagur. He has said that people should be paid to hand in weapons.
If Abushagur is appointed prime minister by Congress today, that could adversely affect the 16 September event. Those with guns may well decide to hold on to them to make money later.