Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files)
Muammar Gaddafi urged loyalists on Wednesday to continue fighting insurgents,
denouncing the rebels as traitors and “rats.”
The opposition National
Transitional Council planned a string of diplomatic summits in a bid to portray
itself as Libya’s legitimate government.
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In a poor-quality audio
broadcast on a satellite channel, Gaddafi said the withdrawal from his
headquarters in the heart of the capital Tripoli was a tactical move, and vowed
to accept only victory or “martyrdom.”
“I have been out a bit in Tripoli
discreetly, without being seen by people, and... I did not feel that Tripoli was
in danger,” he said.
Rebels and their political leaders planned
high-level talks in Qatar on Wednesday with envoys of the United States,
Britain, France, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Another meeting was
scheduled for Thursday in Istanbul on the road ahead in the country.
Benghazi, the chairman of the opposition council gave a sense of urgency to
finding Gaddafi, who the rebels believe may still be in or around Tripoli,
having left his Bab al- Aziziya compound in the capital before it fell on
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, one of Gaddafi’s ministers before defecting
in February, said the incoming administration would offer amnesty to any
remaining member of Gaddafi’s entourage who located or killed him. Abdul Jalil
said a local businessman was offering 2 million dinars, about $1.3 million, to
anyone who captured Gaddafi.
The opposition’s call to capture the aging
ruler “dead or alive” gave pause to observers concerned over the possibility of
violent score-settling following Gaddafi’s seemingly imminent ouster. But Meir
Kahlon, chairman of the World Organization of Libyan Jews, offered a more
optimistic view of prospects for democracy in a post-Gaddafi era.
studied in Europe – in Rome and London – and in the United States,” he said,
referring to opposition leaders.
“They know what democracy is, and they
want to be free.
They suffered greatly under the Gaddafi dictatorship,
and many were imprisoned or had their property confiscated.
“With all my
heart, I hope they can form an enlightened country,” said Kahlon, who was born
in Tripoli and emigrated to Israel in 1949. Last month his organization – based
in Israel and representing 200,000 former refugees worldwide – sent a letter to
the National Transitional Council recognizing it as the country’s legitimate
government and offering support and assistance.
A rebel military
spokesman estimated Wednesday that “95 percent of Libya is under rebel control,”
a comment seeming to echo Monday’s widely reported figures of insurgent control
over “95% of Tripoli.”
Opposition claims have come under increased
scrutiny after Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam resurfaced in Tripoli on Tuesday
after rebels said they had captured him.
Abdel Salam Jalloud, a close
ally of Gaddafi who switched sides in the past week, told Al Jazeera the veteran
leader had had a plan to drop out of sight before launching an Iraq-style
guerrilla campaign once NATO air forces had been called off. US officials also believe Gaddafi is still in
One rebel commander in Tripoli said Gaddafi might be in an area in
the south of the city, where clashes were going on. Gaddafi’s home town of
Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast between Tripoli and Benghazi, was still not in
the hands of the new leadership, nor was the southern desert city of Sabha,
where the rebels reported fighting.
A day after rebel forces overran his
Tripoli headquarters and trashed the symbols of his 42-year dictatorship, rocket
and machine gun fire from pockets of loyalists kept the irregular fighters at
bay as they tried to hunt down Gaddafi and his sons.
powers and the rebel governmentin- waiting in Benghazi lost no time in making
arrangements for a handover of Libya’s substantial foreign assets.
was working with Britain and other allies to draft a United Nations resolution
intended to ease sanctions and asset freezes imposed on Libya when Gaddafi was
in charge. Rebels also spoke of restarting oil export facilities soon,
and Washington was set to submit a UN resolution to release an immediate $1.5
billion for humanitarian needs.
Gaddafi’s family and a small circle of
others accumulated great wealth and have the most to lose. A woman saying she
was his daughter Aisha urged Libyans to fight on, in a phone call broadcast on a
small satellite channel: “I tell the Libyan people to stand hand-in-hand against
NATO,” she said. “The leader is in the right.” It was unclear
where she was.Reuters contributed to this report.
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