Libya’s NTC: Appointment of Mangush as army chief ‘irreversible’

Mangush is still to be appointed officially

BENGHAZI (Libya) - Libya's ruling National Transitional Council said Saturday its choice for the post of army chief of staff was "irreversible" despite objections raised by some influential ex-rebel groups.
"The decision of the NTC to appoint Colonel Yussef al-Mangush is final and irreversible," NTC member Mokhtar al-Jadal said in the eastern city of Benghazi, which first rose against toppled leader Moamer Gathafi last February.
Jadal, who is also a member of NTC's media committee, said Mangush was chosen by a majority of NTC members.
Mangush himself said that he had already joined office as head of the new Libyan army, after his nomination on Tuesday, but was still to be appointed officially.
Two powerful groups of former rebels, the Coalition of Libyan Thwars (revolutionaries) and Cyrenaica Military Council, which helped oust Gathafi, have opposed the appointment of Mangush.
"We reject anybody who is not among the list of six candidates proposed by us to the NTC," Behlool Assid, a founder of the Coalition of Libyan Thwars, said on Wednesday.
The coalition represents powerful factions of former rebels from major Libyan cities such as Benghazi, Misrata and Zintan. These militias are heavily armed, including with artillery guns and tanks.
Cyrenaica Military Council, which represents fighters from eastern Libya, even went as far as to name its own alternative candidate to head the new national army.
But some other groups of fighters have expressed their support for Mangush.
A colonel in the former army of Gathafi, Mangush joined the rebellion against the veteran leader.
During the conflict, he was arrested in the oil town of Brega in April by Gathafi's forces and freed in late August following the fall of Tripoli.
The post of chief of staff had been vacant since the murder last July of General Abdel Fatah Yunis, who commanded the rebels in eastern Libya against Gathafi's diehards.
Yunis had been expected to head the new Libyan army when it was formed.