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Libyan ex-rebels will be disarmed -- but not so fast

November 4, 2011 | 12:45 pm

Libya
Disarming Libya's ex-rebels could take months and weapons would not be retrieved by force, the country's new interim Prime Minister Abdel-Rahim Keeb told a French television network Friday.

Thousands of civilians picked up arms during the eight-month rebellion that eventually toppled longtime leader Moammar Kadafi. And some still have those weapons, raising concerns about growing instability during the period of political transition that is expected to culminate with the election of a national assembly by June, according to an Associated Press report on the television appearance.

Libya's interim governing council, which declared the country liberated Oct. 23, had promised to take quick action to disarm former fighters. But Keeb told France24 TV on Friday that collecting those weapons “is going to take some time.”

“We will not force people to take quick and hasty decisions and actions and come up with some laws that just prevent people from holding arms,” the AP quoted Keeb as telling the network.

Instead, the government would try to work with the fighters, by offering alternatives, such as job training, Keeb said.

The country’s new leaders also planned to adopt a “transitional justice” law in coming days to help tackle challenges that arise during the interim period, such as vigilante justice, the AP reported.  Some ex-rebels have sought revenge against former Kadafi regime loyalists.

An independent fact-finding commission would be set up to hear complaints from victims of alleged injustice, both under Kadafi and in the transitional period, AP reported. The commission would investigate the claims and make recommendations, including possible compensation.

The news agency also reported Friday that officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross said more than 400 bodies had been found scattered around Kadafi’s hometown of Surt over the past two weeks. All the dead appeared to have been killed in fighting but it wasn't possible to say whether they were former rebels or Kadafi supporters, the Red Cross officials said.

Kadafi was slain in Surt on Oct. 20 during the fighting in circumstances that remain unclear.

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-- Ann M. Simmons in Los Angeles

Photo: Libya's interim Prime Minister Abdel-Rahim Keeb speaks to reporters in Tripoli, the capital,  on Monday. Credit: Sabri Elmhedwi / EPA

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