Libyan PM: Disarming Fighters Could Take Months

Loose weapons and defiant armed militias are contributing to the ongoing instability in post-Gadhafi Libya

The new Libyan Prime Minister has said disarming former Libyan rebels could take months and vowed to not take them from the fighters by force, backtracking on previous promises to take quick action to stabilize the country.

Abdurrahim el-Keib is the dual US-Libyan citizen and member of the National Transitional Council that was appointed interim Prime Minister by the NTC leaders last week. He admitted that the NTC has not yet established full control over the country, but that it is making progress. Nation-wide elections are set to take place within eight months.

Libya’s dispersed factions of armed gangs, rebel fighters, and tribal militias backtracked this week on their initial pledges to disarm once Gadhafi fell. The militias are one of the most urgent facing Libya’s new interim government as many of them are defiantly demanding their own local autonomy, still heavily armed from the eight month NATO-backed battle for regime change.

Sporadic fighting between NTC fighters and remaining Gadhafi loyalists is ongoing, along with reports of vigilante revenge killings and skirmishes between rebel fighters themselves.

The NTC has also struggled to secure the vast weapons stockpiles loose throughout the country, which is leading to further destabilization and significant weapons smuggling activities.

“Hopefully, before the eight months end, we will be able to have those armed freedom fighters lay down their arms and go back to their business,” el-Keib said.

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