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Libya to dissolve all militias outside of state authority

Sunday, September 23, 2012    

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BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) — The Libyan authorities said late yesterday they had decided to dissolve all militias and armed groups that did not come under State authority.

The move, a day after Benghazi residents rebelled against the militias in violence that killed at least 11 people and wounded over 70, was announced by Mohammed al-Megaryef, head of the national assembly, in the eastern city.

The authorities also decided to put in place an "operations room" in Benghazi bringing together the army, forces of the interior ministry and defence ministry brigades comprising former rebels.

And they called on the army to impose its authority by putting its own officers at the head of brigades born out of the 2011 revolt, which escalated into civil war and toppled the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.

The new authorities have not been able to disband these civilians turned fighters though many of their units have joined the ministry of interior or ministry of defence.

On Friday, tens of thousands of Libyans demonstrated against militias, ten days after an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi left four Americans, including the ambassador, dead.

Hundreds of them later stormed bases of militias sparking clashes that left 11 dead and dozens wounded. The fighting centred at the HQ of Raf Allah al-Sahati, a salafist brigade under the defence ministry, which was looted.

The measures were the outcome of meetings including de facto Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur, army chief Yussef al-Mangush, intelligence services head Salem al-Hassi as well as national assembly and local council members.

Meanwhile, the army issued an ultimatum ordering militias and armed groups to evacuate military compounds, state property and properties of members of the former regime, the official LANA news agency reported.

It ordered "all individuals and armed groups occupying military barracks, public buildings or property belonging to members of the former regime or (Kadhafi's children) to evacuate these sites within 48 hours."

Hundreds of former rebels have taken over strategic, state-owned military and civilian facilities as well as the properties of supporters and leaders of the former regime in the wake of its fall.

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