By Essam Mohamed
Libya’s transitional government next week will start integrating former rebels into the nation’s army and police, Prime Minister Abdurrahim El Keib said on Sunday (December 25th).
Ex-fighters, he said, can be divided into three groups. “The first category includes those who want to join the defence ministry as part of the Libyan national army, who will be rehabilitated and trained to do their duties in the best possible way,” El Keib commented.
“The second category includes those who want to join the interior ministry as part of the police and security agencies,” he explained. “As to the last category, it includes those who want to have civil jobs in different fields as per their qualifications and desires.”
“Training opportunities will be provided to them on how to create and run small and medium-sized projects, and, once the necessary funding has been provided by the government for this programme, they will be given interest-free loans,” he said about those willing to launch their businesses.
In addition, they will benefit from interest-free loans to kick-start their enterprises in the fields of reconstruction and building.
“The idea is to inject new blood in the army which was marginalised by the tyrant,” Defence Minister Osama al-Juwali said on Sunday. “The registration and recruitment of revolutionaries in the army and police and other sectors will take a month, and they will be trained for months in how to protect our borders and installations, including oilfields and refineries.”
The plan includes training the revolutionaries on how to assume high-ranking positions in the army, he added.
As to rehabilitation and training, al-Juwali said that “talks are under way with a number of countries to train the revolutionaries both inside and outside Libya to prepare them for the army”.
The move probes the government’s capacity to convince revolutionary leaders to relinquish their command of armed formations, to collect weapons and establish security and stability in the country.
“This step will turn the revolutionaries into disciplined personnel operating under the army or police, and no negative points, such as fighting or shooting in the air, will take place,” said Ali Abdul Qadir, who was part of an armed formation in Tripoli.
“I’ve heard that 50,000 revolutionaries will be integrated as of early January into the national army, security and police,” he said. “I think that if this were actually implemented, it would be a real programme to change the face of Libya with the hands of its own children.”
Some, however, were less confident that the government programme would succeed.
“We have heard a lot for a while now, but we don’t see anything on the ground,” said another Tripoli fighter, Moussa bin Hussain. “Those who were planning and preparing for the state should have prepared programmes at the same time when the revolutionaries were waging the war for liberation.”
“I don’t know how this step will be implemented; there are some who will be granted military ranks, but I don’t know on what basis,” said soldier Walid al-Tarhouni. “I just hope that this will take place with transparency and an approved mechanism.”
For her part, Salwa al-Meslati reminded that rebels had fulfilled their “patriotic duty” and should be rewarded for that.
“As to those who were unemployed, they should be supported with loans to start their own projects for the service of our country,” she added. “I personally support this programme, and I hope that it will be realised quickly and successfully.”