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
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

KS2 Teacher required from October

£90 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Hull: Key Stage 2 Supply Teacher requ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education require a ...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor