5 000 militia men join new Libyan army

2012-02-16 10:26

Benghazi -  About 5 000 rebels have joined Libya's nascent national army but more of the militia that have dominated the country since the revolution must sign up if the armed forces are to reassert their authority, the new chief of staff said.

The militia, which fought to unseat former leader Muammar Gaddafi, are now the biggest threat to the stability of Libya, clashing regularly with each other in violent turf wars and undermining the authority of the new rulers.

Libya's interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC), wants to amalgamate the militia into the police force and army. NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil warned last month that if they did not comply, the country risks being dragged into a civil war.

Drawn from dozens of different towns and ideological camps, militia are reluctant to lay down arms they believe will help them secure their due share of political power in the new Libya.

The NTC named a chief of staff, Yousef al-Manqoush, last month and set up a committee to register former fighters and help them to either join the army or police forces or offer them the financial means to start new lives as civilians.

"More than 100 000 rebels from all over Libya have registered with the combatants' committee that deals with the rebels on an individual level and not as groups," Mustafa al-Saqizly, the head of the committee, told a news conference late on Tuesday.

Of those, Manqoush said 5,000 rebels joined the army in an official ceremony on Tuesday and would begin their training in March. About 400 had completed training to join the police.

It is not clear how many fighters there are in Libya's many militia units, but they could number in the hundreds of thousands.


Those that have turned up to seek jobs in the new police force or army appear to be from smaller militias that did not have the resources to make a bid for power, rather than the heavily armed and well-organised militia that are the biggest headache for the NTC.

Mokhtar al-Akhdar commands a 1 200-strong force drawn mainly from Zintan, which now controls Tripoli airport. Speaking to reporters at the airport on Wednesday evening, Akhdar said the NTC had failed to provide jobs and security and that the rebels were so far working without pay to secure the country, making it difficult for the militia to give up their guns.

Once there was a functioning police force of at least 10 000 men, they would consider giving up their own weapons, Akhdar said, complaining about a recent incident in which members of his militia had been detained by a rival group in Benghazi in apparent response for a previous clash.

Such altercations have become a daily occurrence in Libya, while the poor state of the armed forces under Gaddafi has also posed challenges for the NTC.

Gaddafi distrusted the military and effectively dismantled the armed forces in the 1990s, leaving them with few arms or personnel, placing real power in the hands of his own militias which moved swiftly to crush protests against him in February. A large number of military officers defected in the early days of the uprising and barracks were overrun by rebels.

Manqoush said the new Libyan army also needed graduates to join a new 8-10 month officer training scheme aimed at creating a smaller professional army to replace the sprawling but disorganised force of old.

"The army is an institution that cannot be built in a matter of days. We need time," Manqoush said.

"The more we support the national army, and people rally around it and offer it the necessary support and cooperation the more we reduce the need for armed groups ... We must cooperate with the army to help them regain the military barracks and equipment."

Read more on:    ntc  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.