Last updated: 6 December, 2011

Libya government vows to disarm Tripoli by Dec 31

The Libyan government on Tuesday vowed to disarm Tripoli by the end of December, the capital’s council chief said after talks with Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib.

“The government has promised us to disarm Tripoli by December 31,” said Abdul Razzak Abuhajar, whose city has been inundated by former rebel fighters who ousted Moamer Kadhafi.

“They have assured the Tripoli council that the entire city will be disarmed,” the council president told reporters after a meeting with Kib and members of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC).

Earlier on Tuesday, dozens of protesters blocked off several main roads in Tripoli to demand fighters from other parts of the country pull out of the capital, which the rebels seized from Kadhafi’s forces in August.

The blocking of streets triggered acute traffic jams for most part of Tuesday as these protesters also wanted to empty several buildings used by fighters from outside the city as their headquarters.

On October 5, Libya’s new leaders ordered all heavy weapons to be removed from Tripoli, warning their prolonged presence risked giving a bad image of the revolution which ousted Kadhafi.

In the face of international concerns, the NTC has insisted that despite the proliferation of arms on the street, the Kadhafi regime’s looted weaponry has not left Libya.

Abuhajar told AFP on the sidelines of the news conference that residents of Tripoli would hold a rally on Wednesday to “denounce the presence of arms” in the Libyan capital.

The rally would be held in Tripoli’s landmark Martyrs’ Square.

The pressure to disarm former rebels in Tripoli rose after local media reported of several skirmishes between various factions of these fighters, some even causing casualties.

On Sunday, a former rebel was killed in Tripoli in a shootout with members of a brigade of Rojban fighters from the west who sought the release of a comrade held in a security services building in central Al-Jumuhuria Street.

Witnesses said dozens of armed men and civilians forced their way to Tripoli’s main courthouse and the office of Libya’s attorney general, Abdelaziz al-Hasadi, calling for a former rebel allegedly involved in a murder case to be freed.

The prosecutor fled before being caught by the angry demonstrators who demanded the signing of the order of release of the accused.

“This incident is very worrying. There is evidence of the deteriorating security situation in Tripoli,” a local journalist in Tripoli said, condemning the behavior of “brigades of revolutionaries as each of them want to establish law.”