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Libya promises to break militias as ministry held for second day

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's government is drawing up plans to disband militias who have plagued the capital since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the justice minister said as an armed group occupied the interior ministry for a second day.

Salah al-Marghani did not give details of how the authorities would tackle the bands of fighters who have challenged the authority of the government and its security forces for nearly two years.

The government had set up a committee to "put in place mechanisms to disband armed groups, with no differentiation, no matter who they are or where they are from," the minister said in a televised news conference on Wednesday.

"At the end there will be only a national army and police."

In the latest sign of unrest, an armed group ordered staff to leave the interior ministry on Tuesday and around 30 fighters dressed in fatigues remained there on Wednesday.

One of the men said they would stay until authorities broke up another armed force, known as the Supreme Security Committee (SSC) which says it is backed by the interior ministry.

The major oil producer remains anarchic and awash with weapons after the Western-backed uprising.

Government security forces are still struggling to control the regional militias who fought Gaddafi and now want to keep hold of the influence they gained during the revolution.

The government has tried to bring a number of the groups into the system, asking them to protect oil installations and other official buildings.

Marghani said the occupation of the interior ministry was not acceptable and another committee, made up of three ministers, had been set up to find ways to resolve the crisis.

"We are relying on the power of the law," said Marghani, whose own ministry was besieged for two weeks earlier this year.

The government appreciated the groups of former rebel fighters' role in the revolution against Gaddafi, "but now is the time for Libyans to know the future of Libya will not be achieved with the existence of such groups," he said.

(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib and Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130703/libya-promises-break-militias-ministry-held-second-day