Magharebia (Washington DC)

14 November 2012

Libyan Lawmakers Push Weapon Collection Plan

Benghazi — Controlling weapons will help bring security and stability to Libya, government officials say.

Stemming the spread of weapons tops the interim government's agenda and remains a major concern for the Libyan public.

Efforts to collect arms from revolutionaries are already seeing positive results, Deputy Defence Minister Mohamed Taynaz said on Saturday (November 10th).

"If you look at the arms collected thus far in Benghazi by the Special Forces, you find large quantities," he told Magharebia. "In addition, armed formations...have turned in their heavy weapons."

"The people will, God willing, be convinced that building Libya doesn't need weapons, but men's hands," Taynaz added.

While some armed groups are still reluctant to join the government forces, public opinion "favours the accession of all brigades to the defence ministry", the deputy minister asserted.

At this point, the ministry "needs civil society organisations and the media to pressure those who refuse to turn in their weapons", Taynaz added. "We have to start a new stage, which is the building of Libya."

"We elected the General National Congress," Taynaz noted. "It is responsible for drawing up a strategic plan for collecting arms that the defence ministry will implement."

"We now need legislation that will be binding for all Libyan people," the deputy minister told Magharebia.

Amina al-Megheirbi, the General National Congress representative for Benghazi's 3rd district, confirmed that security is a priority for the new elected body.

"We're working on two fronts," she said. "We're following up on the work of the caretaker government and also working quickly to form the new government, so that it may assume this mission in its new platform."

Ibrahim Sahd, another member of the General National Congress, pointed out that the new legislative entity "doesn't have a magic wand" to solve the issue of arms proliferation.

"Security needs a host of measures, and the collection of arms is just one of them," he told Magharebia.

"There is another important issue, which is the militias that appeared after the liberation," he noted. "These militias must be disbanded, and we must use real revolutionaries to disband them and collect arms."

The congressman continued: "We must work on forming the army and security forces, and at the same time, we should be working with the revolutionaries who liberated Libya and stepped forward to fight. We should open all fields to them."

"The General National Congress should not consider the security file under the name 'arms collection' alone. Rather, we should be dealing with this file as a whole," Sahd said. "We want to have a popular movement among the Libyan people in order to restore security and order."

"I say this because everyone should play a role in securing the country," he said. "The Congress can't do it all."

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