- Title: LIBYA: Newly-trained militia graduate in Tripoli
- Date: 5th October 2011
- Summary: TRIPOLI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 4, 2011) (REUTERS) WIDE VIEW OF RACETRACK HOSTING GRADUATION CEREMONY SPECTATORS IN STANDS SPECTATOR WAVING LARGE LIBYA LIBERATION FLAG
- Embargoed: 20th October 2011 13:00
- Location: Libya
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVART7BDEKRAGHNJCTJZ215TS3S
- Story Text: Newly-trained members of a Tripoli militia marched together in front of friends and family in the Libyan capital on Tuesday night (October 4), marking their graduation into the heavily armed group.
In a country eager to swap the gun for the ballot box, the assertive presence of militia in the capital is seen by many as an unwelcome attempt to occupy the political vacuum created by the fall of Muammar Gaddafi six weeks ago.
But graduates of the Souk al-Jumah (Friday market) Brigade marched proudly behind a military band, encouraged by the cheers and salutes from their friends and senior officers in the stands.
When the chief of staff for Libya's Navy Brigadier Abdel Majeed Seif al-Nasser saluted, they respectfully returned the salute before erupting into cheers.
In theory the heavily-armed paramilitaries are allies against Gaddafi, but in practice the behaviour of the various groups, their loyalty pledged principally to their respective home towns, suggests they are morphing into determined rivals.
Gaddafi may still be at large, but with his last bastions under siege Libyans say opposition to him is increasingly unable to act as one unit that worked with the single aim to end his rule.
Many see thinly-veiled attempts to stake rival claims to national power.
Aside from provincial rivalries, there is competition between the Islamist-run Tripoli Military Council, which has nominal control over the whole city and is believed to be backed by Qatar, and formations loyal to the interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, a Western-trained technocrat.
At first glance, Tripoli remains a city in celebration.
By the end of the ceremony the gleeful graduates were throwing other militia members in the air and swinging their arms in unison to spur further cheers from the spectators.
"I came to see the first graduation from the national army, the Souk al-Jumah Brigade. I hope it will be a good step to secure Tripoli to end the military presence in the capital," said Tripoli resident Zohair Mohammed.
But as the weeks wear on, euphoria is receding and everyday concerns are pressing.
The city wants to get back to business. The militias say they will be gone when the state institutions are restored but residents are questioning when that will be.
The National Transitional Council authorities say they are well aware of the risks and are working hard to ensure all parties keep talking to each other.
Some analysts say that the strains evident in Tripoli are a result of the fact that it fell so quickly. It did not have the chance, as Benghazi did, of developing a civil society and a tradition of post-revolutionary debate in the six months between its liberation and Gaddafi's fall.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Audio restrictions: This clip's Audio includes copyrighted material. User is responsible for obtaining additional clearances before publishing the audio contained in this clip.