Rebel leader says Gaddafi can stay in Libya if he quits

In the clearest concession the rebels have so far offered, Libyan president offered refuge if he relinquishes power.

By REUTERS
July 4, 2011 14:36
1 minute read.
Muammar Gaddafi appears on State TV

Gaddafi on state TV 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Libyan TV)

BENGHAZI, Libya - Muammar Gaddafi is welcome to live out his retirement inside Libya as long as he gives up all power, Libya's rebel chief said in the clearest concession the rebels have so far offered.

Gaddafi has resisted all international calls for him to go and said he will fight to the end, but members of his inner circle have given indications they are ready to negotiate with the rebels, including on the Libyan leader's future.

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Gaddafi is still holding on to power, five months into a rebellion against his 41-year rule and despite a NATO bombing campaign and an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for crimes against humanity.

"As a peaceful solution, we offered that he can resign and order his soldiers to withdraw from their barracks and positions, and then he can decide either to stay in Libya or abroad," rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told Reuters in an interview.

"If he desires to stay in Libya, we will determine the place and it will be under international supervision. And there will be international supervision of all his movements," said Jalil, who heads the rebels' National Transitional Council.

Speaking in his eastern Libyan stronghold of Benghazi, Abdel Jalil, Gaddafi's former justice minister, said he made the proposal about a month ago through the United Nations but had yet to receive any response from Tripoli.

He said one suggestion was that Gaddafi could spend his retirement under guard in a military barracks.

Abdel Jalil's remarks stirred an emotional reaction in Benghazi, with a small protest against any talks with Gaddafi breaking out outside a hotel, and the rebel council playing down any speculation about a widening rift among its leaders.

Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, a council vice chairman, told reporters an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Gaddafi had now made any such proposal null and void.

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