Widespread division as Libya fails to name new military chief
TRIPOLI - Officers and soldiers from the former Libyan regime gathered on Tuesday to name a new military chief and relaunch a national army, but the attempt ended in quarrelling amid widespread divisions.
"We were indeed meant to nominate a new military chief, but there are still differences and outsiders infiltrated to make the meeting a failure," Colonel Nasser Busnina said.
Between 200 and 300 military officers and soldiers assembled in Benina air base near Benghazi airport and were joined by dozens of volunteer fighters that had participated in the successful campaign to unseat Moamer Gathafi.
But the meeting quickly broke down, with onlookers shouting their anger at the sight of certain officers.
"We went to the front, many of us died and you are seated there protected by guards," one of them yelled at the officers assembled on a stage.
Others took offence with idea of creating a national army, as stated on the meeting agenda, preferring to call the assembly an attempt to reorganize already existing armed forces.
With crowds of spectators insisting to speak, the meeting quickly fell apart in chaos. A new attempt to name a military chief was set for Thursday, several military sources said.
Several officers accused infiltrators of sabotaging the meeting. The officers believe the defence ministry is hostile to them and is ultimately responsible for the delays in reconstituting the armed forces.
With many volunteer fighters for the National Transition Council still armed, the rebuilding of an army has become a difficult challenge.
Though many officer broke ranks and joined the NATO-backed fighters during the seven-month campaign to dismantle the Gathafi regime, many officers are held under suspicion by NTC fighters and officials.