Ex-rebels eager to 'rebuild' Libya

At least 600 former rebels have signed up for an interior ministry programme designed to integrate ex-militiamen into the country's new security forces.


    Mohammed is 19 years old and has a cheeky smile. Wearing a hoodie, he spoke in very impressive broken English that he had taught himself by watching television.

    He’s one of a few hundred rebels who have answered the transitional government’s call to come and sign up to the interior ministry.

    “I want to help rebuild my country. Now, everything is fine, Gaddafi is gone,” Mohammed told me.   

    Since Saturday they’ve been coming here to register. They’ll be joining the ranks of the police force, or the traffic police, or any other interior ministry branch. 

    They have no say where they will be placed, but many of them I spoke to all had the same message. Gaddafi is gone, we are free and we will rebuild our country.

    After Mohammed did his initial registration he came past me, on the way to sign his contract.

    "Did I like music?"



    Pretty much all styles I told him.

    "Bryan Adams?"

    Yes, although I was surprised at his choice. Then he asked me ... "Mariah Carey?"

    I imagined him, Kalashnikov in hand on the battlefield, humming to Mariah. It didn’t quite fit.

    But that’s just it about many of the guys here, they just didn’t look like they had just fought a fierce war, and seen death. 

    They are young, funky men. One with slicked back hair, crisp shirt and oversized sunglasses another wearing a Gucci baseball cap. So many ordinary people joined the fight, becoming soldiers overnight.

    This country is now flooded by all kinds of weapons.  

    Sure, the brigades have their piles of ammunition, but ordinary people do too. 

    Many houses will have a stash of AK-47s hidden away. The transitional government is trying to clean all that up,  but it’s a complicated issue and they are being cautious.

    I asked whether these men needed to hand in their weapons as they registered with the interior ministry. The man in charge of taking their applications said: "No. We’ll deal with that later."

    Around 600 rebels have signed up since the interior ministry launched this programme. It’s not a high number if you compare it to how many fighters are out there, but every day has seen a steady flow of people. 

    The officials running the programme are optimistic.

    There’s a long way to go, with so many different groups, but it’s a start. And the fact that everyday there are more men signing up from various different brigades, gives them hope.

    The police force and army will need to be built up and introduced to Libyans as serious, dependent security forces before the majority of people will consider giving up their weapons.

    Both institutions were sidelined under Gaddafi so they command very little trust.

    As we filmed some last shots outside where the final contract finalisation takes place, Mohammed was sitting with some friends.

    He had just signed. Congratulations I told him. I asked him where his gun was?

    "It’s at home." 

    Would he give it up? 

    He smiled his cheeky smile again: "Yes I will, if everyone else does, too."



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