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
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk