Libya to Integrate Former Rebels in Military

Posted December 25th, 2011 at 7:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Senior Libyan officials have announced a program to disarm and integrate into the country's armed forces and civil institutions thousands of former rebels who helped topple Moammar Gadhafi.

Planning Minister Issa al-Tuijer said Sunday the ex-rebels – many who still are organized in disparate militia groups – will be assigned to the military as well as police and other civilian posts.

The registration period will begin after January 1 and last about one month.

Defense Minister Osama Juwaili said the plan's main focus is to fill positions such as border guards, where former fighters would police the country's porous frontier. He said key installations, including oilfields and refineries now held by rival militias, also would receive guards.

Some ex-rebels would take up high-ranking positions in the military. Talks are under way with a number of countries to train rebels inside and outside Libya for military posts.

Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali said his understaffed ministry is among those expecting large numbers of recruits. He recently estimated that 25,000 former rebels would join the interior ministry and another 25,000 would join the defense ministry.

Although rebels met a deadline imposed by the ruling National Transitional Council to withdraw this week from the capital, Tripoli, militias led by rival commanders still guard key installations and checkpoints across the city.

The lack of a fully functioning army and police force has allowed militias to fight turf wars after the uprising that ended Gadhafi's 42-year rule in August.