Col. Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday told military cadets he will organize civilian militias to maintain order and will dismantle the regular army and police.
The Libyan leader gave no timetable for eliminating what he called the "classical army and the traditional police." His meaning also was unclear because he also said military service still would be mandatory.Gadhafi spoke at a graduation ceremony for the cadets at Tripoli stadium. He has made several calls in the past for ending the military, but this was the first time he publicly gave details.
Gadhafi also said 1 million Libyans have used their salaries to pay for weapons. He said the arms would be kept in barracks and used by the civilians in case of security threats.
His remarks indicated, however, that military officers would retain some authority over the civilian militias.
He also announced that mandatory military service will be reduced from two years to one and said no one would be exempt.
The moves would be the "crowning of the completion of the state of the masses, and power of the people, the power of the people's congresses and committees everywhere," he said. The people's congresses are Libya's governing bodies and the committees are revolutionary panels that serve as watchdogs of Gadhafi's revolution.
In the audience was Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat, who came to Tripoli too for today's celebration.
Pointing at Arafat and shouting, Gadhafi chided the PLO leader for his good relations with Egypt, with which the Libyan leader has a long enmity.
"I challenge Arafat to (prove) if there is any benefit to having a relationship with Egypt," he said.