By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 30 December:
High-profile government figures and military chiefs visited Benghazi last night to reveal their plans to restore security . . .[restrict]to the city before local officials and elders in light of the recent violence that has shaken the city.
Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail and army chief of staff Major General Yusuf Al-Mangoush told the meeting, was also attended by the head of the city’s local council, Mahmoud Buraziza, and head of the Security Directorate Mustafa Al-Raqiq, that the defence and interior ministries had plans to clear the city of weapons.
Shuwail said that the Interior Ministry had plans to carry out inspections across the city, and would confiscate any weapons they found. Any civilian caught carrying a weapon would also be arrested for 24 hours, according to the plan revealed yesterday.
He also urged residents of Benghazi to help rebuild their city, saying that the “government stands shoulder to shoulder” with the people in their efforts.
Meanwhile, Al-Mangoush highlighted the importance of cooperation between the armed forces and the Ministry of Interior in trying to put an end to the violence in Benghazi.
The chief of staff highlighted that the army was at a critical juncture, and that it was currently in the early stages of reconstruction after the revolution in 2011.
He said that the national army’s priority at the moment was the rehabilitation of its personnel, and integrating former revolutionaries into its ranks gradually, and that the plans to build the armed forces would start to bear fruit in 2015.
Local council chief Buraziza also urged his city’s residents to work towards the reconstruction of their city, but said that for meaningful change to come to Benghazi, his council must work with all civil society organisations.
In recent months Benghazi has seen a string of killings targeting security chiefs, in what some have seen as a coordinated campaign of assassinations, which culminated in the murder of former city police chief, Faraj Drissi.
Further violence between armed groups and the security services broke out earlier this month, when a demonstration calling for the release of two prisoners held at the Security Directorate descended into a shootout.
Religious leaders, members of the government and armed forces have all called for calm in the wake of the fighting in the city’s Al-Hawari district, which left several dead, and on Friday protesters gathered in Benghazi to call for an end to the violence. [/restrict]