Libya's leader warns of civil war after Tripoli gun battles

Fighting between rival militias leaves seven dead as head of interim government pleas for calm

The head of Libya's interim government warned yesterday that the country could descend into civil war after rival militias fought gun battles in the centre of the capital, Tripoli, leaving a trail of dead and injured.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil spoke of the dangers posed by continuous lawlessness of private armies while the draft regulations for the first parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year were being published.

But the rules were immediately attacked with claims that they risk creating upheavals of the type triggered by the "De-Baathification" programme introduced in post-Saddam Iraq by the US envoy Paul Bremer. Some of the thousands, with links to the former regime, who were sidelined as a result took up arms and joined the insurgency that still continues.

The terms proposed in Libya by the National Transitional Council (NTC) for candidates would automatically bar not only those associated with the Gaddafi regime, but even anyone who received an academic qualification based on the late dictator's political treatise, The Green Book. Those holding dual nationality would also be disqualified unless they abandoned their second passport.

Critics warned the wording of "association" with the former regime was too loose for what was a centralised hierarchy with widespread state control. Study of Colonel Gaddafi's rambling thoughts on governance, they added, was often necessary to get a civil service post. And the nationality rule, it was said, would put off many from the diaspora who returned to take part in the revolution.

But it was the continuing violence five months after Tripoli fell to the revolutionaries that was the cause of immediate concern. In the latest clashes, fighters from Misrata attempted to storm a jail in which a number of their comrades were being held. Seven men were killed and a dozen wounded in two separate firefights.

Mr Jalil, the chairman of the NTC, said: "We are now between two bitter options. We deal with these violations by brigades strictly and put the Libyans in a military confrontation which we don't accept, or we split and there will be a civil war. If there's no security, there will be no law, no development and no elections."

The transitional government wants the militias, which sprang up during the uprising against Gaddafi, to join the national security forces. However, attempts to get the fighters to disarm have largely failed

Against this backdrop, Youssef Mangoush, once a special forces commander under Colonel Gaddafi who defected at the start of the revolution, has been named as the new chief of staff of the military and tasked with integrating the militias. But the strife in Tripoli showed the difficulties he faces. Shooting began after a Misrata brigade member was arrested for alleged robbery.

The first, failed, attempt to free him on New Year's Day led to four more fighters being arrested. A second assault was launched on the headquarters of the Tripoli Military Council on Tuesday.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas