Libya

This seems to be good news:

 Residents of Libya’s second-largest city warned on  Saturday of a ‘‘revolution’’ to get rid of armed militias and Islamic extremists  after protests spurred in part by the killing of the US ambassador left four  dead in an unprecedented eruption of public frustration.

In a sign of how weak the country’s post-Moammar Khadafy leadership  remains, authorities tried to stem popular anger, pleading that some of the  militias are needed to keep the country safe since the police and army are  incapable of doing so.

A mass protest Friday against militias against the compounds of  several armed groups in Benghazi lasted into early Saturday, as thousands  stormed the headquarters of Ansar al-Shariah, an Islamic extremist group  suspected in the Sept. 11 attack on the US Consulate.

They drove out the Ansar gunmen and set fire to cars in the  compound — once a major base for Khadafy’s feared security forces — and then  moved onto the base of a second Islamist militia, the Rafallah Sahati Brigade.  Brigade fighters opened fire to keep the protesters at bay.

As does this:

Authorities in Libya have announced a decision to dissolve all militias and armed groups that did not come under the authority of the state after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, state media reports.

The announcement was made by Mohammed al-Megarief, the head of the Libyan national assembly, late on Saturday during a press conference.

The authorities also decided to put in place an “operations room” in Benghazi bringing together the army, forces of the interior ministry and defence ministry brigades comprising former rebels.

They have called on the army to impose its authority by putting its own officers at the head of brigades born out of the 2011 revolt, which escalated into civil war and toppled Gaddafi’s government.

The announcement of the ban came hours after two armed groups said they would lay down their weapons and leave their bases in the eastern city of Derna.

Derna residents say five military camps are now empty, after Abu Slim and Ansar al-Sharia, the two main militias in the area, withdrew.

It’s obviously much too early to know what this means, but popular protests to disarm militias (and directed specifically against conservative religious militias) and in support of a stronger central government are very good signs.

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