TRIPOLI, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Libya’s new rulers and residents of the capital on Tuesday asked fighters who flooded into Tripoli to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi to leave, warning their presence could destabilise the country.
The request comes as the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) is deadlocked in attempts to form a government, partly over the allocation of posts to regions whose armed bands are cheek-and-jowl in Tripoli with local fighters already grumbling about the presence of outsiders.
“I consider the armed presence in the streets not entirely healthy. What is being asked of the kata’ib (brigades), which are concerned for the future of Libya, is to exit the capital,” the NTC’s military spokesman, Ahmed Bani, told reporters.
He was speaking at a meeting including representatives of newly formed local government bodies in Tripoli, where the influence the would-be national government exercises over various armed groups is tenuous.
There was no visible representation at the meeting of militias from Misrata and Zintan, areas which threw off Gaddafi’s rule well before the capital fell last month, and have established a strong armed presence in Tripoli since.
The capital has seen almost complete calm since rebel fighters stormed Gaddafi’s fortress-like compound in Tripoli, but no effective central authority over armed groups has emerged.
Militias from outside Tripoli have said they are in the city in part to ensure that they have a political stake in Libya’s future government that correspondents to the contribution they made on the battlefield to overthrowing Gaddafi.
A representative of a Tripoli group backing the call for a pullout said the armed groups now need to give way to police.
“We accept the role they played in securing victory in the capital and in providing security over the last four to five weeks,” said Sadig Zarouq.
“But the protection of Tripoli must be left to the revolutionaries from these districts, after they have been registered and their loyalty to the February 17 revolution verified.”
Forces from elsewhere, he said, should relocate to bases outside the city, and Tripoli armed groups should stick to their own turf, and no militia should be expanding without authorisation from a central authority.
“The protection of each district should be taken up by its own youth, as is happening now,” he said. “The kata’ib (brigades) came to liberate cities and ensure the success of the revolution. Why should new members be recruited?” (Editing by Christian Lowe)