Libyan army calls on militias to disband or face force

By REUTERS
September 23, 2012 16:41
1 minute read.

 
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TRIPOLI - Libya's army on Sunday ordered rogue armed groups in and around the capital to leave state and military premises in Tripoli or be ejected by force, apparently seeking to capitalize on the withdrawal of militias from Benghazi and Derna.

The two main Islamist militias in Derna, a town in eastern Libya known as an Islamist stronghold, said on Saturday that they were disbanding in the town, a day after one of them, Ansar al-Sharia, was driven out of Libya's second city, Benghazi.

The many militias, most of them ex-rebels, that control Libya's streets more than a year after Muammar Gaddafi was toppled are the clearest sign of the weakness of a central government that has been unable to control them and, worse, relies on many of them to provide security.

However, the killing of four Americans including the ambassador in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 seems to have given the nascent democratic government a cue to rally support and channel public frustration with the armed groups.

Similar edicts have come and gone in the past, with little or no effect on the militias, but the growing frustration of the public may be tipping the balance at street level.

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