Guarantee of a role for Libya forces post-Gadaffi

LIBYA'S security forces will be asked to return to their duties as soon as Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi is removed from power, under plans aimed at avoiding the violent chaos that swept Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Britain's international development secretary Andrew Mitchell yesterday said that detailed plans for Libya's future have been drafted and draw heavily on mistakes made in Iraq - including the decision to disband the country's army, widely regarded as a critical factor in the nation's descent into sectarian strife following Saddam Hussein's removal.

A team of experts from Britain, the United States, Turkey and other nations has spent much of the last month in the eastern city of Benghazi drafting a strategy with Libya's opposition leaders.

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"One of the first things that should happen once Tripoli falls is that someone should get on the phone to the former Tripoli chief of police and tell him that he's got a job, and he needs to ensure the safety and security of the people," said Mr Mitchell. Frozen Libyan assets would be quickly freed up to pay police and soldiers, he added.

British officials have acknowledged there will possibly be some wariness over the plans, and that the public may not accept some senior loyalists returning to their posts.

But Mr Mitchell said many of Libya's existing police and security units would be required to keep the peace.

"The report has, in my judgment, learned the lesson of Iraq about the importance of using to the maximum possible extent the existing structures," he added.

Plans drafted by the UK-led pool of international experts lay out ideas on how to rebuild the country's economy, justice system and infrastructure if and when Col Gaddafi is forced from office? the United Nations is currently considering what role peacekeeping troops may need to play in Libya.