Libya's escalating gun problem

Tuesday's attack by gunmen on the headquarters of Libya's interim government was not the first time when former revolutionaries had used their weapons to enforce their demands and it probably won't be the last.

Around 200 ex-fighters with 50 vehicles armed with multiple rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns surrounded the headquarters of the government. The clash left some people dead or injured.

Seemingly everyone in Libya has guns and this has been a problem ever since the National Transitional Council declared Libya liberated from Muammer Gaddafi.

Many former rebels - some here like to call them militias - have been using their weapons to enforce their demands.

So that’s why many Libyans including the NTC has blamed the interim government for its slow and weak response to integrate the former rebels and establish stability.

The NTC recently even considered sacking the prime minister and some of his ministers. But they decided it won’t be in Libya’s interest, as the country is near general elections which are expected to take place in June.

Now the government says it’s making progress. Between 40,000 to 50,000 former rebels have been integrated in the army, police force or given civilian jobs, the government says. And it is planning to integrate and train more of them.

The first group of ex-fighters has been sent to Jordan for police training.

The Army is also being built. But it will definitely take more time to establish a professional force. Meanwhile, the interior ministry also managed to create the Supreme Security Committee - which is made up of rebel brigades from across Libya.

It has 8,000 strong members and they report directly to the ministry of interior. It was this force that was called in to deter the attackers on the government's compound on Tuesday.

The government has been calling on all rebels to hand in their weapons and to be part of the state either in the military or civilian sector and labeled those who are not willing to do so as "fake revolutionaries".

The deputy prime minister told Al Jazeera that the ministry of interior is allocating between 25,000 and 30,000 policemen to secure the elections.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

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