By Adam Nathan.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) of Libya is planning to build a new ‘unity army’ to stem conflict between rival militias in the country.
“Our strategy currently is to inform different military groups that we welcome anyone willing to join the new army but also making it clear they will have to abide by the rules and serve as individuals,” said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Maiteeg, who is familiar with the plans for the unity army.
“We are sending a message to our military people that they should go back to work rebuilding the army again,” said Maiteeg. “We are building this strategy with the Minister of Defence [Mahdi Al-Barghathi] and the chief commander of the new Libyan army, whose appointment we will shortly make. We want our new army to get away from all the conflict inside the country because we believe that the Libyan army should be the symbol of the unity of the country and not the division of the country.”
“An immediate issue will be what to do with people in the militias,” said a senior Western diplomatic source. “The best could be brought in to the army. But the rest will need careers and to be trained. Otherwise you have unemployed young men with guns and nothing to do who may turn to crime such as people smuggling.”
The move for a unity army comes as concerns increase in Libya and in the international community that General Khalifa Haftar, leader of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), will continue to block the progress of the UN-backed GNA government in Tripoli and does not seek peace.