Libya’s militarized youth feed into economic woes

In this Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 file photo, Libyan gunmen celebrate on the early morning of the second anniversary of the revolution that ousted Moammar Gadhafi, in Benghazi, Libya. More than 18 months since the end of Libya's civil war, the most attractive job for many of the young is still to join a militia. In fact, just under a tenth of Libya's labor force may be working as gunmen. State coffers are full of cash from rapidly reviving oil production, but rather than funding reconstruction, much of the money goes to buying off a restive population with state salaries, including to militias, effectively feeding a cycle of lawlessness. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon, File)

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — More than 18 months since the end of Libya's civil war, the most attractive job for many of the young is still to join a militia. In fact, just under a tenth of Libya's labor force may be working as gunmen.

Libya's government coffers are rapidly filling with cash as oil exports return to near pre-war levels, powering a 100 percent increase in GDP in 2012, according to a report this month by the International Monetary Fund.

But the economy of this North African oil giant remains in disarray. Unemployment, officially at 15 percent, is estimated by some as high as 50 percent. The private sector, decimated under ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi, still barely functions. Reconstruction investment is largely on hold, and the weak central government is funneling much of its oil wealth into public handouts to quiet discontent, as Gadhafi often did. Other money is lost down the drain of corruption....

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