Libyan NTC suspends former rebel handouts amid widespread fraud

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National Transitional Council chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil talks to protesters who entered the NTC's Benghazi headquarters. Photo - Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Libya’s interim government has announced it is ceasing cash payments to former rebels following revelations of widespread fraud worth hundreds of thousands of Libyan dinars. The post-Gaddafi government had been making payments to civilians-turned-fighters who joined the rebellion against former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“Payment of rewards to rebels have been stopped due to violations and abuses. Millions of dinars allocated to revolutionaries were lost in (illegitimate) payments to non-beneficiaries,” Mohammed Harizi, a spokesman for the National Transitional Council, said in a statement.

The interim authorities also announced violations of the handouts will be referred to the attorney general and the audit bureau for further investigation. The spokesman added that no further payments will be made until distribution methods have been made transparent in order to eliminate possible corruption and beneficiary lists been approved by military councils across the country.

The interim government insists that the main purpose of the bonuses was to encourage former rebels to lay down their weapons and join the new official institutions of the state.

Widespread demonstrations are taking place in front of the interim government headquarters in Tripoli as militiamen demand their missing payments be paid without further delays. Residents have complained about lawlessness in many neighbourhoods of the capital as many armed brigades have blocked traffic by creating checkpoints and hindering freedom of movement.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) insists more than 25,000 people were killed during last year’s NATO-led rebellion, which ended after the fall of Sirte. The UN has recognised NTC as Libya’s governing body in September last year.

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