TRIPOLI Sep 4 (Reuters) – Libya’s interim government moved to calm its anxious fighters and offer stability on Sunday, announcing plans to draft thousands of the men who ousted Muammar Gaddafi into the police and find other jobs for the rest.
Though Tripoli has become noticeably calmer in recent days, with people drifting back to work, cars back on the roads and cafes and restaurants starting to do business again, there are still large numbers of armed men on the streets. Many more are still in brigades in other parts of the country.
National Transitional Council (NTC) officials on Sunday announced plans to train 3,000 of demobilised rebel fighters as police and national security officers and to set up training schemes and scholarships for others.
The NTC, anxious at all times to encourage national reconciliation, said the plans would also be open to those who fought to defend Gaddafi.
“They are coming from a hot environment,” Faraje Sayeh, whose title is interim minister for capacity building, told Reuters. “Now we will calm them down and try and find ways to reintegrate them into civil society.”
Sayeh said the government was also telling the fighters to be “realistic” despite their high expectations.
“Due to six months of conflict the potential of the government is limited. Try to bear with us,” he said.
Many young fighters say they were driven to join the revolution against Gaddafi because they were unemployed and were tired of seeing the country’s huge oil wealth benefiting a small elite around the leader and his family.
Interim interior minister Ahmad Darat told Reuters the new government needed its fighters for about just another month as it sought to extend its control over the entire country.
“They will give up their weapons. It’s just a matter of time and organisation,” Darat said.
Several brigades of fighters are still camped out close to Gaddafi’s last three main bastions of support — Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha — waiting for orders to move in and take over should the town surrender or to attack if they refuse.