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Rebels cast shadow over Libyan progress

July 11, 2012 at 11:13 AM
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TRIPOLI, Libya, July 11 (UPI) -- The new Libyan government needs to tackle outstanding security issues by incorporating rebel forces into the military, a Middle East analyst said.

Rebel groups in Misurata called on rival military forces to hand over two reporters arrested last weekend or face a military response within 24 hours, reports Bloomberg News.

Forces from Misurata backed rebel groups during an uprising against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi last year that led to civil war and, eventually, an interim administration. Human Rights Watch in April said paramilitary forces in Misurata were suspected of human rights abuses.

Crispin Hawes, director of the Middle East program at the Eurasia Group, told Bloomberg reconciliation may be the best way forward for the Libyan government.

"The new national security forces cannot go toe-to-toe with the militias and disarm them," he said. "The militias will be absorbed when they want to be absorbed, which is when they have got what they think they are due from the government."

Election officials in Tripoli are preparing to release final results from weekend elections. The U.N. Support Mission in Libya estimated around 2.8 million of the estimated 3.4 million registered voters cast their ballots for members of the National Congress.

Clashes were reported ahead of the vote in parts of the country seeking more authority in the wake of last year's civil war.

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