22 November 2013

Libya: Militias Leave Tripoli

Photo: Iason Foounten/unmultimedia
A crowd of demonstrators protest the ongoing use of weapons by militia in the cities (file photo).

Tripoli — Zintan's Al-Qaaqa Brigade on Thursday (November 22nd) gave its headquarters back to the Libyan government and left with its weapons and tanks.

"We decided to withdraw under pressure from the people and due to what happened in Tripoli," Brigade commander Othman Mligta told Magharebia.

Defence Minister Abdullah Al-Thani and other officials attended the handover ceremony. Another Zintan-based group, the Sawaek Brigade - one of the most heavily armed units - also pulled out from a site in the capitol occupied since August 2011, AFP reported.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan attended Thursday's pullout by the Sawaek Brigade, and thanked the groups for complying with the government order to depart.

The Misrata militia had already started pulling out of Tripoli on Monday at the behest of community leaders in their coastal city.

A 200-strong Gharyan militia quit Tripoli on Tuesday. Brigades from Jadu, Nalut and Rajaban also reportedly left the Libyan capital.

On Thursday, the Nawasi battalion on Thursday handed its headquarters back to the local council of souk al-Juma in Tripoli.

"The camp was handed back today to the Defence Ministry and to the Libyan army, which has no loyalty except to the homeland," Colonel Salem Souissi said.

"The rebels of Zintan returned to their city. Only those who joined the army will remain to protect the camp," Brigadier-General Juma El Abani, Chief of Staff of the Libyan Air Defence, told Nabaa TV.

The recruits will be based outside the camp, under the control of the General Staff, El Abani said.

Quwat Al-Rada at Mitiga airbase also handed back its headquarters to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. The ceremony was attended by Electricity Minister Ali Muhairig, who chaired the committee behind a resolution addressing the departure of armed formations from Tripoli.

"Resolution 27 is now written in blood instead of ink," he said.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan said that the implementation of Resolution 27 would apply to all factions without exception and that weapons would only remain in the hands of the state. "This matter put us in front of the challenge of seeing military and police assume security," Zidan said.

He called on citizens to observe the security scene and be informants of the nation, saying, "They should not allow anyone to tamper with the homeland and not allow anyone to breach security."

The government had asked Congress to implement Resolution 27 after the Tripoli protest and the clashes that claimed "50 martyrs", the premier said.

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