Rebels in Tripoli asked to 'return home'

NTC minister suggests fighters who helped take control of Tripoli have finished job and can go back to their homes.

    Libyan forces have converged on Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, hoping to seal their revolution [Reuters]

    The interior and security minister of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) has said that fighters from elsewhere who helped to liberate the capital should now go home.

    "Starting Saturday there will be a large number of security personnel and policemen who will go back to work," Ahmed Darrad said in Tripoli on Friday.

    "Now the revolutionaries of Tripoli are able to protect their own city," Darrad said.

    The demand comes as leaders of the NTC said they would move to Tripoli, pledging to restore order and stage elections in 20 months.

    "We will go to Tripoli next week. Tripoli is our capital," Mustafa Abdel Jalil, NTC chairman, told dignitaries and tribesmen in the eastern city of Benghazi on Friday.

    Female participation

    In Tripoli, thousands of people, most of them women, gathered in Martyrs' Square in a show of support for the new leadership, also raising US and French flags.

    Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from Tripoli, said: "This is a family night, it is a night for women to come and say thank you to their men for helping liberate their country, they tell us."

    McNaught said unlike many celebratory occasions in previous weeks, the gathering was peaceful, with no rifles or guns being fired.

    Bolstered by promises made at a conference in Paris on Thursday of billions of dollars in cash from unfrozen assets of the Gaddafi regime, the NTC prepared to implement a road map for bringing democracy to Libya.

    A body tasked with drafting a constitution should be elected within eight months and a government within 20 months, NTC representative in Britain Guma al-Gamaty told the BBC on Friday.

    For the first eight months the NTC would lead Libya, during which a council of about 200 people should have been directly elected, Gamaty said, referring to plans drawn up in March and refined last month.

    "This council... will take over and oversee the drafting of a democratic constitution, that should be debated and then brought to a referendum," he said.

    Within a year of the council being installed, final parliamentary and presidential elections should be held.

    The new leadership was also boosted on the economic front, with the weekly Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reporting that Libya could at least partially resume crude oil output and refining within days.

    Quoting local officials, MEES added however that the country would take time to reach its pre-war oil production level of 1.7 million barrels per day.

    International support

    Senior envoys from more than 60 countries met the leaders of the NTC in Paris to endorse the fledgling new regime and offer practical support.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the uprising's most prominent supporter from the outset in February, said around $15bn had already been unfrozen and more would follow.

    Abdel Jalil said Libyans had "proved their courage and their determination" in their fight to topple Gaddafi, and it was now up to them to bring about the promised stability, peace and reconciliation.

    The NTC has put its assault on the centres still controlled by pro-Gaddafi forces, in particular his hometown of Sirte, on hold until September 10 to try to negotiate a peaceful end to the six-and-a-half month conflict.

    East and west of Sirte, the attackers have halted their advance while talks with tribal leaders go on, but at the same time they are preparing for an assault.

    In Qum Qandil, west of Sirte, where reinforcements have been pouring in, fighters carefully checked their heavy machine-guns and rifles, loading shells into clips ready for use.

    Tanks, mortars and heavy artillery have also been deployed among the sand dunes behind the frontline, ready for an opening barrage, but on Friday all was quiet.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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