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Mixed assessment on Libya's progress

March 1, 2012 at 9:57 AM

TRIPOLI, Libya, March 1 (UPI) -- The new leadership in Libya is commended for its move toward democracy though militias remain "their foremost challenge," a U.N. envoy said.

U.N. Special Representative to Libya Ian Martin told the U.N. Security Council that Libya was to be congratulated for laying the ground work for the first democratic election in nearly 40 years. The new leadership in Tripoli, he said, has also started preparations for the drafting of a new constitution.

"It is clear that the Libyan people are eager to move forward with the transition to democracy and their most central expectation of the United Nations is that we will support them in doing so," he said in a statement delivered via video conference from Tripoli.

Misurata, the former rebel capital, had local elections last month. It was considered a model for later elections, though human rights officials said militias in the city are acting with impunity and undermining the authority of the interim central government in Tripoli.

Martin told the Security Council that militias were a growing security concern in Libya.

"The Libyan authorities well recognize that their foremost challenge is to address the future of the revolutionary fighters and the wide circulation of weapons, and to develop professional state security institutions under civilian control," he said.

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