Middle East

Libya government to provide aid for former rebels and families

Libyans flash the V-sign for victory as they stand in front of a billboard with an image of a Libyan killed during the ouster of Libyan president Moamer Kadhafi. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA)

TRIPOLI: Libya’s government will give each family more than $1,500 and pay unemployed former rebels who fought in the war that ousted Moammar Gadhafi last year, the prime minister said, in an attempt to win over those who want faster progress.

In a televised address a day after Libya marked the first anniversary of the start of the uprising, Abdul-Rahim al-Qeeb said families whose relatives were killed or were still missing would receive monthly aid but did not specify the amount.

“The government has decided that each Libyan family will receive 2,000 dinars ($1,540),” he said.

He said jobless former fighters would receive payment for the past year until the end of the month. He said students would also receive financial grants but did not say how much.

The transitional government appointed in November is leading Libya toward June elections but is struggling to restore services and impose order on a country that is awash with weapons.

Together with the self-appointed National Transition Council, it has been praised for getting many of the ministries up and running and, notably, for drafting an election law for the Libya’s first free polls.

But many Libyans thought progress would be faster, and the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry are failing to incorporate disparate militias into a police force and an army.

These groups fought hard in the campaign to topple Gadhafi but still refuse to hand in their weapons.

Qeeb reiterated government calls for these fighters to join the national police and security forces.

Last month, protesters stormed the Benghazi headquarters of the NTC while its chairman was still in the building, demanding the sacking of Gadhafi-era officials and more transparency about how the NTC was spending Libyan assets.

Qeeb also called on religious leaders in the country to help with national reconciliation. “We must put an end to the culture inherited from the former regime,” he said. “We must build a new culture.”

Libya will hold its first election for a constituent assembly on schedule in June, the election commission head, Othman al-Qajiji, was quoted as saying by the official news agency Sunday.

Under the NTC-adopted constitutional declaration in August, the elections for a first constituent assembly are scheduled to be held eight months after the country declared its “liberation” from Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

The liberation was declared on Oct. 23, meaning the election is to be held in the last week of June, although no date has yet been set.

Qajiji said his newly formed election commission was in contact with the Libyan authorities and spoke of “fruitful collaboration” with some departments, while hoping the effort would be “free of bureaucracy.”

The NTC in late January adopted an election law to regulate the vote for the 200-member constituent assembly.

The election law stipulates that 120 of the 200 assembly seats be reserved for independent candidates.

Libya celebrated Friday the first anniversary of the launch of its revolution which toppled its longtime leader Gadhafi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 20, 2012, on page 9.




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