Libya sets year-end deadline for weapons handover

AP News
Posted: Dec 06, 2011 2:27 PM
Libya sets year-end deadline for weapons handover

Armed residents of the Libyan capital have until the end of December to hand over weapons to authorities, a local government official said Tuesday.

The uncontrolled ownership of weapons has been a major security concern since the end of the eight-month civil war that toppled Moammar Gadhafi, and rival revolutionary militias who remain armed have clashed repeatedly.

"All individuals must give up their weapons and go back to civilian life or sign up with security forces with the ministries of defense or interior," said Abdel-Rafik Bu Hajjar, head of Tripoli's city council.

Revolutionary brigades that swept into the capital during the city's fall in August have until Dec. 20 to leave, and the Tripoli brigade itself will dissolve at the end of the month, he told a news conference.

Libya's National Transitional Council has taken a cautious approach to seeking to disarm other fighters nationwide.

Last month, interim-Prime Minister Abdel-Raheem el-Keib said he could not disarm fighters until he has prepared alternatives, including jobs and training. President Mustafa Abdul-Jalil seemed to affirm the slower approach Saturday, noting that 75 percent of those carrying weapons are unemployed.

In November, he promised Libya's new leadership would provide them with jobs and support.

On Tuesday, el-Keib's office released a statement welcoming the Tripoli council's initiative to "help clear Tripoli of weapons and unnecessary militia presence."

The statement said the local military council had begun to establish roadblocks and checkpoints across the city and that some streets faced total closures to block the movement of armed vehicles that do not belong to the ministries of interior or defense.