Libya rebel leaders say they're in charge. Not so fast, say some in Tripoli.
Western rebels say they won't accept a government run by the National Transitional Council's chairman, who is from the east and has yet to be seen in Tripoli since rebels seized the capital.
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If Qaddafi remains at large for an extended period – Saddam Hussein was not captured for nine months after the US invaded Iraq – the NTC says it will appoint a new executive committee, instead of a temporary government, giving the reins to a weakened institution at crucial time of transition.Skip to next paragraph
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The current executive committee – in practice the transitional government – was ordered dissolved early last month. The move came immediately after the rebel’s military leader, Abdul Fatah Younes – a former Qaddafi interior minister – was murdered in Benghazi on July 28 while in rebel custody. At least one member of the council was found to have been at fault for “administrative mistakes” that allowed the assassination to happen.
Jibril’s extended time spent outside Libya – he has rarely set foot in his home country in recent months – has paid dividends. Dozens of nations have recognized the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, and the US and European nations have begun unfreezing government assets to give the new government the cash it needs to keep services running and police on the streets during the transition period.
In Tripoli, another challenge to the new authorities are the thousands of fighters who roam the streets, Rambo-style, who also display regional rifts.
Celebratory gunfire is a staple of any rebellion, but the Libyan rebels come equipped with anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back of pick-up trucks, and they take pleasure in firing them into the air. For the residents of Tripoli, for whom the reality of war only set in a week ago, it is quite a shock.
“All the Tripoli fighting units have been brought under control of the Tripoli local council,” said Omeish. “But it is true that the fighters from outside Tripoli sometimes behave in an improper fashion, like going into neighborhoods and shooting off their anti-aircraft guns. This has angered some people.”
Omeish admits that the fighters from places like Misurata in the east, or Zintan, Jadu, and Nalut in the western mountains, have not submitted to the authority of the Tripoli council.
“We try to ask them not to do that," says Omeish, "but it is not always easy."