Libya appoints former colonel as chief of new army
TRIPOLI - A former colonel in Moamer Gathafi's military has been appointed as the new chief of staff of the Libyan army, two members of the country's ruling National Transitional Council said on Tuesday.
Yussef al-Mangush, who took voluntary retirement from Gathafi's military and even participated in the rebellion against the former leader, was promoted to the rank of general and appointed as chief of staff, said NTC member Abdelrazzak al-Aradi.
His appointment was confirmed by Fathi Baaja, another member of the NTC from the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising that toppled Gathafi.
The post has been vacant since the murder in July of General Abdel Fatah Yunis, who commanded the former rebels in eastern Libya against Gathafi's diehards.
Mangush is currently a deputy defence minister in the interim government of Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib.
"His appointment as the head of the army has been backed by NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil and Prime Minister Kib," said Baaja.
During the conflict, Mangush was arrested in the oil town of Brega in April by Gathafi's forces and freed in late August following the fall of Tripoli.
Several officers of the former army had criticised the NTC for moving slowly on the appointment of the new chief of staff, saying the delay had also held back the formation of a new army and the integration of former rebels who fought Gathafi.
Formation of a new army is seen as a key step towards disarming militias in the country, especially in Tripoli.
In November about 150 officers from the former military gathered in the town of Baida to appoint Major General Khalifa Haftar as the new chief of staff in an attempt to pressure the NTC, but his appointment was never made official.