August 22, 2011 / 11:59 AM / 9 years ago

Libyan rebels says Tripoli security a priority

Aug 22 (Reuters) - BENGHAZI, Libya, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Senior Libyan rebel officials slipped into Tripoli before their fighters occupied most it over the weekend and they are working with existing authorities to establish security, a rebel official said on Monday.

“At the top of the plan is security,” said Abdullah Gzema, a member of the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC), in the east Libyan rebel bastion of Benghazi.

Four NTC members travelled to Tripoli before rebel fighters closed in on the city to prepare for the downfall of leader Muammar Gaddafi, he said.

“They have contacted the people belonging to the local committees. There is communication,” said Gzema.

Rebel leaders did not want their front-line fighters to be in charge of security in the capital and other towns and cities, he said, but rather civilian authorities.

Rebel officials have said there will be no sweeping away of the old administration and security forces in Libya, unlike in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

“We will work with them, except for those who were very close to Gaddafi, but I think they have gone already” said another senior NTC member, Suleiman al Sahli, who is in charge of education.

“We will work together,” he said.

Both of the officials said they wanted to get to Tripoli as quickly as possible and hoped to get there in coming days.

But the journey by road, west along the coast from Benghazi, could be dangerous as there are pockets of Gaddafi forces and supporters along the way.

“Security is the first priority for us, for everyone,” said al Sahli. (Reporting by Robert Birsel; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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