By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 22 November 2013:
Speaking at the handover ceremony by the Sawaq brigade of their Islamic Call Society site on . . .[restrict]Thursday, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, flanked by five Ministers, remembered the historical significance of 21 November 1949.
Zeidan reminded his overwhelmingly young audience that it was on this historic day that the UN granted Libya its independence. He paid tribute to King Idris I and his generation who had to steer Libya through similar difficult times.
Turning to the day’s event, Zeidan paid tribute to the “spirite of the thuwar (militias) for obeying the GNC’s and therefore, the public’s wishes.
“The Sawaq brigade had chose on its own initiative to implement Law 27, especially after, last Friday, which was a warning that weapons outside the hands of the official security forces is a danger”, Zeidan added.
Probably answering some criticism that only certain militias from certain regions or of a particular religious or political orientation would leave Tripoli, the Prime Minister said “we will continue to implement this law with force and determination.
If any refuse”, he added, either hinting that some militias were dragging their feet, or seeking to send them a coded warning, “we would be forced to reveal them to the public”, he warned.
“Weapons are a danger to their users and to the public. I called for a strong position by the public, and they responded. We will not stop implementing this law. This is the beginning”.
Hinting at the possibility of taking a stronger hand against reluctant militias, Zeidan signaled that in the past he “had been flexible and sympathetic, not out of weakness”, but because he “valued Libyan citizens.
Equally, responding to criticism that he has been weak and unwilling to use force against the militias, Zeidan said “we don’t use force unless we are forced to. And we will use force within the confines of the law”.
Zeidan sought to calm the general public after the sad deaths at Gharghour and went out of his way to warn against regional divisiveness.
He stressed that the Ministry of Interior will continue to allow peaceful, civilian demonstrations, but that demonstrations should confine themselves to the permitted areas.
The Prime Minister was undoubtedly very keen to avoid any further marches by civilians on militia bases, with the possibility of further bloody consequences. Anyone who leaves the pre-designated route or area of the licenced demonstration will be considered “outside the law”, he stressed. [/restrict]