Libya: Militias ordered to fall in line or disband


Members of a Libyan rapid unit brigade in charge of clearing unlawfully occupied buildings from militias patrol during an operation in Tripoli on September 23, 2012. A Libyan crackdown on lawless militias spread to the capital after armed groups that have not been integrated into state institutions were ordered to disband and evacuate their bases.



The Libyan government ordered the country's militias to either come under government authority or disband, following popular protests last week against the armed groups that roamed the country, the Associated Press reported.

President Mohammed el-Megaref told reporters on Saturday that the militias, which the government has relied on to provide security since Muammar Gaddafi's ouster, must fall in line or disband. He said a joint operations room would coordinate between armed brigades and the army, working to dissolve militias that operated outside the "legitimacy of the state."

Libya's army also issued an ultimatum to militias in and around the capital, Tripoli, giving them 48 hours to leave military premises or be ejected by force, Reuters reported.

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The state-run LANA news agency reported that the army's ultimatum vowed to "use force to carry out these orders" if necessary. According to CNN, Libyan troops also raided a rogue infantry brigade's base in Tripoli on Sunday.

"Our mission is to evacuate all public installations and private property occupied by groups who are not under state jurisdiction," said Haj Musa, one of the commanders of the National Mobile Unit, according to Agence France Presse.

Two of the main Islamist militias in Derna, an Islamist stronghold, said that they were disbanding on Saturday. One of them, Ansar al-Sharia, was driven out of Benghazi earlier, said Reuters.

The increased pressure on Libya's militias comes after they were accused of involvement in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi earlier this month, which left four Americans including the US ambassador dead.

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